Child Health Plan
This page will discuss how to care for a child’s health, from their nutritional requirements, to personal hygiene, drinking clean water, and caring for common illnesses that they face.
Not getting enough nutrients can lead to malnutrition, this is when children suffer from low weight, stunted growth, and when they are at a greater risk of developing infections and illnesses that could become fatal. In fact, malnutrition is estimated to be the cause of more than half the deaths of children in developing countries every year.
Children can become malnourished of macronutrients and micronutrients, both of which are needed to achieve healthy growth and development. Macronutrients are foods that make up a large part of a person’s diet, and include proteins, carbs and fats. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are needed in small amounts to help the body function. Oftentimes, the malnourishment of macronutrients goes hand in hand with the malnourishment of micronutrients. In addition to a healthy and varied diet, supplements can be given to supply the needed amount of micronutrients.
Here are some guidelines for child nutrition once they are on solid foods:
Ages 2 to 3: Daily guidelines for girls and boys
Calories 1,000-1,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 2-4 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1-1.5 cups
Grains 3-5 ounces
Dairy 2 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,200-1,800, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5 ounces
Fruits 1-1.5 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5 cups
Ages 4 to 8: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,200-2,000, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 3-5.5 ounces
Fruits 1-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-2.5 cups
Grains 4-6 ounces
Dairy 2.5 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,400-2,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 4-6 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 1.5-3 cups
Grains 5-7 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 9 to 13: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 1,600-2,600, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2-3.5 cups
Grains 5-9 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for girls
Calories 1,800-2,400, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5-6.5 ounces
Fruits 1.5-2 cups
Vegetables 2.5-3 cups
Grains 6-8 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Ages 14 to 18: Daily guidelines for boys
Calories 2,000-3,200, depending on growth and activity level
Protein 5.5-7 ounces
Fruits 2-2.5 cups
Vegetables 2.5-4 cups
Grains 6-10 ounces
Dairy 3 cups
Maintaining proper hygiene can reduce the chances of children developing illnesses or infections, and lead to having good overall health.
Hand washing is one of the key ways to reduce spreading and contracting different diseases.
In order to properly wash hands, soap should be applied and rubbed into alather all across the hands, between the fingers, and beneath the finger nails. This should be continued for about 20 seconds.
Hands should be washed before and after eating or handling food, after using the bathroom, after caring for someone sick, after touching a wound, after changing a diaper or cleaning up after a child, after coughing or sneezing, after touching an animal, and after touching garbage. If neither soap or water is available, alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used. Soap and water should also be used to wash the face, body, and hair.
To help reduce the risk of tooth decay and oral infections, teeth should be brushed for two minutes, twice a day, and on all sides in small strokes. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three or four months, or whenever the bristles become frayed. Only water that is considered safe should be used for brushing teeth.
While not absolutely necessary, flossing can also help reach in spots that brushing can miss and further reduce the chances of suffering from tooth decay or an oral infection.
In regards to menstrual hygiene, teaching girls about their periods and how to manage them is crucial to minimize their school absences, embarrassment, and risk of infections. It is important to provide access to proper menstrual hygiene products.
A vaccination is used to strengthen the body’s immune system against certain diseases. Often found in the form of an injection or mouth/nasal spray, they introduce either a dead or weakened form of a pathogen to the immune system without actually infecting the person. After having interacted with this specific pathogen, the body is now able to recognize it in the future and fight off the real disease if they happen to become infected.
Vaccines are not just important for protecting individuals from diseases. If enough people in a community receive vaccinations, then they have what is called “herd immunity”. This helps protect people who cannot receive vaccines, such as infants, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. If individuals cannot catch the disease due to vaccines, then this also means they cannot spread the disease to the people around them.
Common vaccinations for children might include measles, chickenpox, group A meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, meningococcal, polio, hepatitis B, haemophilus influenzae type B, yellow fever, rotavirus, HPV, and pneumococcal.
Many parts of the world lack an adequate supply of clean water. One of the biggest dangers in consuming contaminated water is the ingestion of illness-causing bacteria and parasites, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and in many cases lead to death. Children, whose bodies and immune systems are still developing, are especially at risk of dying from water-borne illnesses. It is estimated that nearly 80% of illnesses in developing countries are a result of contaminated water.
Not only does providing clean water help reduce illness and fatalities, it has also been shown to reduce poverty by creating a healthier environment which can improve the economy and reduce tensions that can arise as a result of a limited amount of clean water. Here are a few methods to make water safe for consumption when there is not a readied source available:
1. The SODIS Method
The Solar Water Disinfection, or “SODIS”, method is relatively simple. It involves placing clear water (meaning free of mud and other sediments) in a clear container and placing it in the sun for at least 6 hours. The heat and radiation kills the pathogens in the water, making it safe for consumption. If clear water is unavailable, table salt can be added to remove mud from the water. The salt will bind to the particles so that they settle to the bottom of the container and can be easily separated from the clear water.
2. Rainwater Collection
Rainwater can be caught on a roof surface and directed into a clean container to use for drinking water. Using a mesh to strain bugs or large particles out of the water as well as boiling it can further reduce the risk of contracting an illness.
3. Fog and Dew Collection
Nets can be hung vertically to catch water droplets that then roll down into clean collection containers. Using a mesh to strain bugs and large particles out of the water and boiling it can further reduce the risk of contracting an illness.
4. Atmospheric Water Generators
The premise of these machines is to extract water from thin air. It cools down the air, which dehumidifies it and allows the water to collect in a container. It is a similar concept to how air conditioning units work, only instead of just letting the water drip off of the unit it is collected for consumption.
5. Reverse Osmosis
This method is very useful when dealing with salt water. It uses pressure to force water through several different types of filters, removing bacteria, viruses, dirt, salt, and many other types of substances. While this method results in extremely clean water, it also tends to be one of the more expensive options.
6. Filter Straws
These reusable straws contains a cloth filter which strains out nearly all bacteria and parasites. It lasts about three years and costs only a few dollars.
Adding chlorine can kill off bacteria and parasites. After adding it and stirring, let the water sit for a minimum of 30 minutes before drinking.
Treating and Preventing Illnesses
Children are especially susceptible becoming ill, and are more likely to suffer from complications and fatalities due to their illness. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to prevent and treat the most common illnesses that also lead to the most deaths in children: pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
PLEASE CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR IF YOU OR A CHILD IN YOUR CARE CONTRACT ANY OF THESE ILLNESSES; THE SUGGESTIONS LISTED BELOW ARE BASED ON COMMON PRACTICES, BUT ONLY YOUR DOCTOR WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND CAN PROVIDE INSTRUCTIONS ACCORDINGLY:
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The infection causes parts of the lungs to fill with fluid, which makes breathing difficult. Since many children in developing countries do not have access to treatment for pneumonia, it is the cause of approximately a third of deaths in children under 5 across the globe.
- Methods to prevent pneumonia:
1) Get vaccinated. Vaccines that prevent diseases that can cause pneumonia include influenzae type B, pneumococcal, pertussis, chicken pox and measles.
2) Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking.
3) Cover the face when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause pneumonia.
4) Hand washing with anti-bacterial soap, especially after using the bathroom, before cooking and eating, and after coughing or sneezing.
- Methods to treat pneumonia:
1) Antibiotics can be used to clear up infections caused by bacteria.
2) Antiviral medications can be used to clear up infections caused by viruses.
3) Drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest, especially if the infection is caused by a virus.
4) Avoid smoking, second-hand smoke, and even wood smoke. The smoke can irritate the lungs and make healing more difficult.
5) Do not fight the urge to cough, as this is how the body works to clear the lungs of an infection. Just ensure that the mouth is covered when coughing, and that hands are washed regularly.
6) Hot beverages can soothe sore throats.
7) If the pneumonia is especially severe, then intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy will need to be administered.
Diarrhea is the second leading killer of children around the world and can stunt a child’s growth. It is caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that find their way into the body and cause loose stools, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, fevers, and abdominal pain. Deaths resulting from diarrhea are often caused by severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
- Methods to prevent diarrhea:
1) Wash the hands with soap, especially after using the bathroom and before cooking and eating. Educating families on proper hand washing and implementing handwashing education in schools is important.
2) Avoid contaminating drinking water with feces by performing cleaning and hand washing elsewhere, and setting up bathrooms a good distance away from any drinking water supply. Open defecation results in higher incidents of contaminated drinking water, so setting up clean and safe bathrooms is crucial.
3) Utilize rotavirus and measles vaccines, which prevent contracting the two viruses that commonly cause diarrhea.
- Methods to treat diarrhea:
1) Oral rehydration therapy is used to hydrate and correct electrolyte imbalances. Hydration kits contain water, sugar, and salts such as zinc, potassium, and sodium.
2) Supplements of probiotics can help balance out the digestive system with beneficial bacteria.
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is spread through mosquitos. When bitten by a mosquito, the parasite is transferred to the host and causes symptoms such as fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. In more severe cases, it can cause organ damage, neurological issues, blood abnormalities, organ failure, and death. Even after being cured, relapses of malaria can occur. Certain medications can be used in the case of a relapse.
- Methods to prevent malaria:
1) Wear long sleeves and pants to reduce the chance of getting bitten by a mosquito.
2) Use a bug repellant (preferably without DEET, as that can be harmful to the liver) on skin or on clothes, or even around the home.
3) Sleep under a mosquito net to block mosquitos. Bug repellant can be applied to the net to increase its effectiveness.
4) Reduce the amount of stagnant water that is used for mosquitoes to breed in.
- Methods to treat malaria:
1) Use antimalarial drugs, which can be accompanied by medication to reduce symptoms such as fever and nausea.
2) Drink plenty of fluids to help the body fight off the illness.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious disease that occurs when the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosisenters the lungs and begin to grow, eventually spreading to other areas of the body. Symptoms normally include chest pain, coughing that is accompanied by presence of blood and/or phlegm, weakness, fever and chills. Since the bacteria are in the lungs, TB can be spread when the affected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. It is diagnosed through either a skin or blood test.
It is also possible to have latent TB, where the body fights off the bacteria on its own and therefore the bacteria becomes inactive. The person will still test positive for TB, but does not suffer from any symptoms and cannot spread it. However, this can still become an issue if the person’s immune system becomes compromised, which will allow the bacteria to begin multiplying and make the person ill. Since children have a weaker immune system, they are at a higher risk of having latent TB become active.
- Methods to prevent tuberculosis:
1) If possible, avoid people infected by TB.
2) For children and infants, it is advised that they only receive a TB vaccine if they are not already infected with TB and are continually exposed to other people infected with TB.
3) Covering the mouth when coughing and sneezing, and practicing handwashing afterwards.
4) If someone is diagnosed with latent TB, there are medicines that can be taken to prevent it from becoming active.
- Methods to treat tuberculosis:
1) Antibiotics are the only available treatment, and must be taken at the same time every day for 6-9 months to ensure that all of the bacteria have been killed.
2) If the patient has already had TB once before, then they may need to take a different course of antibiotics if the bacteria has become resistant to the set of antibiotics that had been used on the previous infection.
HIV & AIDS
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the cells in a person’s immune system, making it very easy for the affected person to become sick and even die due to an illness as simple as the common cold. It can be spread through sexual contact, drug equipment, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
If left untreated, HIV can progress into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), where the body is left with very few white blood cells to fight off different illness. While neither HIV or AIDS are curable, there are still methods to prevent and treat these diseases.
- Methods to prevent HIV and AIDS:
1) If a woman becomes pregnant and either has HIV/AIDS or is at risk of being exposed to it, then she should begin taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications to reduce the risk of passing the virus to their baby. ART medications are safe to take while pregnant, and do not cause any ill effects in the unborn baby. If a mother is treated with ART early in her pregnancy, then the risk of passing on HIV to their baby is less than 1%.
2) The baby also receives ART for 4-6 weeks after they’re born to further reduce their risk of contracting HIV.
3) Mothers who test positive for HIV or AIDS should avoid breastfeeding and pre-chewing food for their baby.
4) C-sections will further reduce the risk of HIV being transmitted to the baby.
5) Parents and guardians can reduce the risk of children being assaulted, and therefore prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, by always knowing where they are at all times and ensure that they are only around trusted adults.
- Methods to treat HIV and AIDS:
1) ART medications are the only effective way to treat HIV and AIDS. Patients who test positive for HIV or AIDS should begin taking ART medications as soon as possible and must take the recommended dose every single day.