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If you are an Association, an NGO, a structure in charge of school canteens, orphanagesparticipate with Antenna France spirulina distribution to overcome chronic malnutrition among children under 5 years.

What are the nutritional needs of the child?

Until the age of 4 months (and often 6 months), the nutritional needs of children are covered by the maternal milk. Breastfeeding may exceed 1 year but from 4 months a strictly milk diet does not cover the needs of the infant, particularly iron and energy (breast milk provides about 8 g / day protein which needs to a child between 6 months and 3 years are 20g.) => the risk of chronic malnutrition or iron deficiency anemia become possible. We must therefore make a weaning porridge ideally with the 8 essential amino acids (which can not be synthesized and must be provided by the food). From 2 years old the baby is fed with the family food which is often low in energy, low in fat and protein and low in vitamins (especially vitamin A and B vitamins) and minerals (including iron and zinc) .

How to identify a malnourished child?

To measure nutritional status, you must know: sex, age, weight, height and MUAC. For weight measurements and sizes, we must compare the curves established by UNICEF and serve as international references.

PBThe  MUAC (or “périmètre brachial” in French) is an index of body mass and is measured in the left arm halfway to the tip of the elbow and the tip of the scapula (the arm should be relaxed ).

There are different types of malnutrition:

  • Insufficient weight for height = Acute malnutrition (wasting)
    –  severe acute malnutrition (SAM): weight = 70% <by weight and arm brachial perimeter  <11 cm
    –  moderate acute malnutrition (MAM): weight between 70% and 80% <average and brachial perimeter between 11 and 12.5 cm

The marasmus (muscle wasting after fat loss) is the most common form. Kwashiorkor is less common and is characterized by edema, anorexia, apathy …

Children being in a very critical situation and often with diseases and infections, must be surrounded by maximum precautions and receive a  treatment in hospital.

  • insufficient to age Size = Chronic malnutrition (stunting )
  • Insufficient weight for age = Underweight 

Chronic malnutrition often begins before birth due to poor maternal health, which leads to stunted growth. This is a micronutrient malnutrition. The most important deficiencies listed in terms of micronutrients are: iron, vitamin A and iodine.

The most vulnerable are fetuses, children under five and women before and during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

An article written with the National Office for Nutrition Madagascar (NSB) and published in the Express Madagascar explains why priority should be given the first 1,000 days of a child.

How to take spirulina ?

Rich in vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium and essential amino acids, spirulina also has a very high protein content. It contains at least a fifteen pigments including beta carotene (provitamin A), chlorophyll and phycocyanin (anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-tumor).

It can be eaten at any age (from infants to the pregnant woman and adult), but its interest is particularly evident in young children growing: during the weaning period and during preschool (1-5 years ). It is often at this preschool that malnutrition is most pronounced for nutrient needs are high, the traditional porridge is not sufficiently nourishing and the risk of infection is important because the child does not yet have protection immune.

Why to take spirulina ?

Before starting the treatment we recommend to conduct a deworming (vermicide) of the child to optimize the effects of spirulina.

Spirulina is distributed in powder or flakes to sprinkle on foods after cooking before serving.

The powder mixed with a slightly sweet lemon water is very well accepted by young children. Lemon allows a better assimilation of iron and provides vitamin C. The powder can also be mixed with yogurt or slurry, or added to a sauce.

The flakes mixed with rice, cassava, daily porridge are also well tolerated. They can also be mixed with a juice. It is important not to cook spirulina in order not to degrade it.

The usual dose is:

  • 1 teaspoon per day for children (2/3 g per day)
  • 2 teaspoons per day for adults (or 3/5 g per day)

A daily course of 6 weeks is required to give strength and vigor to a child suffering chronic malnutrition. We then observed an improvement in his health, his ability to concentrate and an increase in size and weight. If necessary, six months after the first course, there will be provided a second course of 6 weeks.

It is possible that some children have some symptoms at the beginning of the treatment as a headache, intestinal disorders, vomiting, mild fever, etc. These effects are known and relatively rare. In this case, it is best to reduce the doses of spirulina (half or quarter of a spoon) or stop, if the medical staff recommends it, and start again a few days later by gradually increasing doses.

Spirulina distribution examples