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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 6, Lesson 2

Nutrition and Special Populations

pregnant mother with big bellyThe critical period of brain development is during pregnancy and the first few years of life. Malnutrition during embryonic and fetal growth and during infancy and the toddler years has an effect on the developmental outcomes for a lifetime. After birth the greatest rate of growth is during the first six months when an infant will double his/her birth weight. At one year of age a typically developing infant will triple his/her weight. There is a slowing of the growth rate somewhere around nine to fifteen months of age.

All babies should be gaining weight and growing during their first year. If they are not, then something is wrong and they must be checked and monitored. Contributing causes of problems during infancy include premature birth, the presence of congenital anomalies, cardiac or respiratory problems, and infections. However, vomiting and diarrhea are probably the leading causes of weight loss in an infant.

Vomiting

Vomiting may be associated with gastro-esophageal reflux, intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods, an intestinal tract obstruction such as pyloric stenosis (tightened stomach valve that does not allow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestines) or malrotation of the bowel. Vomiting may also occur when there is pathology in the central nervous system such as when the intracranial pressure is increased. Vomiting may be caused from the intentional administration of certain drugs such as ipecac that will induce vomiting.

Diarrhea

father changing babyDiarrhea has many causes, the most common being the inability of the intestinal tract to absorb one or more of the necessary nutrients: proteins, fats, or carbohydrates. This condition is known as malabsorption and can result from food protein insensitivity or intolerance or other enzyme deficiency.

The ITDS should be alert to instances when the infant or toddler is not gaining weight or when the caregiver is reporting symptoms of diarrhea. Why is this important to the health of the child?

What awareness should the ITDS have who is providing services to infants and toddlers in child care facilities related to diarrhea?

 

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