“Earthquake mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed their babies”

Child Health and Disease Specialist Assoc. Dr. Birol Karabulut provided information on what to consider when feeding babies who survived the earthquake.

“Children more affected than adults”

Mentioning the dangers that await babies who remain in the earthquake zone in difficult conditions, Assoc. Dr Karabulut said: “Children, unlike adults, are more affected than adults during disasters because they have not completed their physical and mental development. Children’s respiratory rate is higher than that of adults, their body fluid volume is low, their skin is thin and their surface area is large, resulting in increased fluid loss and an increasing incidence of hypothermia. Malnutrition, lack of clean and sufficient water, insufficient shelter and overcrowded environments lead to stagnation in the physical and psychological development of children and to serious illnesses, especially infectious diseases.

“Nutrition deficiencies are visible”

Talking about what to consider when feeding babies who have survived earthquakes, Assoc. Dr. Karabulut shared the following information: “After a disaster, malnutrition is common among children under the age of 5. Protein energy disorder (malnutrition) due to inadequate protein, carbohydrate and fat intake, and micronutrient deficiency due to lack of access to fresh food for logistical reasons, can cause lasting damage to children’s cognitive, psychological, neurological and physical development strongly influence. Therefore, children under the age of 5 should be given priority in determining their nutritional status, as the risk of malnutrition is high.”

“Food consumption should be regular to prevent disease”

Explaining what needs to be done to protect babies from infection, Assoc. Dr Karabulut said: “Getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to prevent infections and reduce the severity of infection-related illnesses. Adequate and balanced nutrition is necessary for the immune system to work effectively.

“The Importance of Breastmilk”

Emphasizing that the most ideal food for babies in disaster situations is breast milk, Assoc. Dr Karabulut said: “However, the milk secretion may stop temporarily or completely because the mother is psychologically affected by the disaster. Nevertheless, the mother should be encouraged to breastfeed. Breastfeeding both helps the mother to sustain life and to provide in the needs of the child by secreting the milk again.

“Baby food must be carefully prepared”

Stating that one should be very careful while choosing baby food, Assoc. Dr. Karabulut said: “In disaster situations, artificial feeding causes various infections, especially diarrhoea. For this reason, hygienic food preparation units with full tools and equipment should be established.

“What to do with children’s health after a disaster”

associate Dr. Birol Karabulut summed up the key principles of child health after a disaster as follows: “Children’s psychological and behavioral health responses to disasters need to be strengthened. After a good assessment of the nutritional status in disaster situations, food distribution should be started. Feeding programs should take into account that breast milk is the best food for infants and children. Measles and meningitis vaccines are the most commonly administered vaccines in disaster situations, depending on the characteristics of the region. In the acute phase of the disaster, measles vaccination must take place in a society where vaccination coverage is below 90 percent. The main purpose of the vaccine is to prevent a possible epidemic and reduce the mortality rate. Ensuring clean and safe water after a disaster is especially important for children to prevent infectious diseases. Chlorine is very effective against many waterborne pathogens. Special areas should be created for children in disaster situations. These areas are necessary both to meet the needs of children and to communicate with society in disaster situations.”

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