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Orient Journal of Medicine

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Dietary Preferences and Pattern in Children with Sickle Cell Disease in Enugu Metropolis

UF Ezepue, IJ Emodi, U Okafor, PO Okonkwo, AC Uwakwem

Abstract


The looks of children with sickle cell anaemia give an impression of malnourishment. Not growing optimally, they have lower weight, height and muscle bulk in the upper limbs than age and sex matched controls. Their underlying state imposes an increased metabolic demand on them. Yet there is simultaneous inadequate nutritional intake and malabsorption in periods of crises. Evidence of depressed appetite also exists. Parents try to combat this through administration of blood tonics.


As a first step in assessing the nutritional status of children with sickle cell disease it was decided to conduct a detailed dietary interview. The food intake of children with sickle cell disease attending the sickle cell clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu was analyzed and compared with that of age matched controls that do not have sickle cell disease. Only differences which P-value was or 0.05 below were accepted as statistically significant.


In the age stratum 4 years and under, generally no significant differences were noted in the food consumption pattern of children with sickle cell disease when compared with age-matched controls. However, children with sickle cell disease consumed significantly more spinach than controls. In the age stratum 5-16 years, children with sickle cell disease consumed more of the food items considered.


Foods were sourced from mainly the market for all children and when not consumed, it was for similar reasons, mainly expensiveness and child=s dislike. Night blindness seems to occur more in children with sickle cell disease.


It is concluded that parents no do not purposely bias quantity or quality of food presentation to children with sickle cell disease despite noticing that relative to their other children, these children looked always ill-fed. The value of taking the specific nutritional needs of these children into considerations in food presentation was discussed. In addition, it is suggested that more attention be paid to nutrition and that nutritionist be involved in the health care and management of these children.

Key Words: Sickle Cell Disease; Dietary Preferences; Haemoglobinopathy in Enugu

Orient Journal of Medicine Vol.15(1&2) 2003: 49-57

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http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ojm.v15i1.29047
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