A Professor of Paediatrics at the Department of Paediatrics, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Olugbenga Mokuolu, says babies don’t need routine nutrition supplements and multivitamins to improve their appetite.
According to the paediatrician, it is wrong to give children multivitamins to improve their appetite.
Prof. Mokuolu, who is also a consultant paediatrician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, stated this in an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, warning that giving babies multivitamins in excess quantities, could cause some problems.
The don said parents need to understand that children are human beings and they have behaviour.
He explained, “Their behaviour and preferences are to be understood and they can be properly persuaded. Hunger is a great appetiser.”
“Multivitamins are not generally harmful but using them should be for different reasons.”
“If it is for appetite, that is the wrong reason. If a child is sick, the child needs to be treated and when they recover from treatment, their appetite will be restored.”
“If a child is active and playing but refuses a particular food item, it cannot be forced to like that food item by administering multivitamins.”
Prof. Mokuolu went on to say that drugs should be used for the right reason.
“A baby is not a disease. Human beings do not survive on drugs, they survive on nutrients, cleanliness, fresh air and good activities.”
“Under some circumstances, some babies might need help- vitamin supplements like preterm.”
“What children need to grow and thrive is appropriate and good nutrition and not dietary supplements,” he said.
The child health expert advised parents to see children as human beings and not disease entities.
Prof. Mokuolu reiterated that except there is a particular deficiency, children don’t need routine nutrition supplements.
Continuing, the paediatrician said, “Generally, vitamins are safe. As I said, you can take vitamins for what they are. They are very useful, they help to control maybe abnormal products during body reaction and they are also necessary for body growth.”
“Vitamins are a class of drugs and there are varieties of them with different consequences.”
“So, when you say vitamins, you are not just referring to one drug. So, you have vitamin A, you have what is called vitamin B complex which has several subsidiaries under it, you have vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and then you have vitamin K. So, there are different classes of vitamins.”
“Anything for instance that has vitamin A, you want to ensure that it is not taken in excess. It can affect the brain and it can make a child convulse when taking in excess quantities.”
The researcher noted that when dietary supplements are given for the wrong reasons, it defeats their usefulness.
“But most of the vitamin products that are being sold, luckily, are usually in the vitamin B category and this is why we have not been recording consequences from the level of use that people have subjected it to.”
“We thank God they are relatively safe compounds but not all of them. When given in excessive quantities, they can begin to give some babies problems.”
“We should be careful with all of these things. Babies are human beings and not a disease. Human beings are human beings. What they need is to be fed correctly.”
“But if you begin to give them as supplements, they are not necessarily adding to that usefulness,” he said.
According to him, children don’t need all those supplements but appropriate nutrition.
He counselled, “What children need is good nutrition and a healthy diet.”
“Children should be given a homemade diet. If you are giving your child a homemade diet, some foods are green, white, and red and those like oil. Any food you are giving to your child, let it have this mix. Except there is a particular deficiency, children don’t need routine nutrition supplements.”
An online portal, WebMD says there are many reasons why babies refuse food.
“They may be full, tired, distracted, or sick. Perhaps the baby’s feeding schedule just isn’t your feeding schedule. Don’t worry, a baby will always eat if they are hungry, so if your little one is swatting at the spoon, turning away, or clamping their mouth shut, they are telling you that they have had enough for now. Just make sure your baby is being fed healthy foods and junk foods are not filling them up earlier.”
@ Punch Newspaper