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Childhood diarrhea is an important cause of malnutrition, which can be worsened when caretakers limit nutritional support. We queried 390 caregivers and their children in a peri-urban community in Lima, Peru regarding general perceptions of feeding and feeding practices during diarrhea. Overall, 22.1% of caregivers perceived feeding during diarrhea to be harmful. At baseline, 71.9% of caregivers would discontinue normal feeding or give less food. Most would withhold milk, eggs, and meats. Approximately 40% of caregivers would withhold vegetables and fruits. A pilot educational intervention was performed to improve feeding during diarrhea. At follow-up survey 3 months later, none of the caregivers would recommend withholding food. Only 23.2% would recommend discontinuing normal feeding and 1.8% perceived food to be damaging. Misperceptions of the role of feeding during diarrhea pose a significant health risk for children, but a simple educational intervention might have a major impact on these perceptions and practices.
Financial support: BP received funding from the International Academy of Life Sciences. TJO and JR were funded by the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), Spain, Programa de Cooperación Interuniversitaria e Investigación Científica con Iberoamérica (D/019499/08, and D/024648/09). JR also has a fellowship from the program I3, of the ISCIII (grant no.: CES11/012).
Authors' addresses: Birte Pantenburg, Institute of Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, E-mail: email@example.com. Theresa J. Ochoa, Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander von Humboldt, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru, and University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX, E-mail: Theresa.J.Ochoa@uth.tmc.edu. Lucie Ecker, Instituto de Investigación Nutricional, Lima, Peru, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Joaquim Ruiz, Centre de Recerca en Salut Internacional de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, E-mail: email@example.com.