This disease was first recognised in 1935, in African children and it is named from two words of an African dialect, meaning first and second, i.e. sickness that strikes the first child, when he is soon displaced at his mother's breast by the second born. Why do babies lose weight during weaning? On weaning, a child requires more than twice as much protein in relation to body weight as do adults. In spite of the nutritional status of the mothers, breast milk provides enough nutrition in quality and quantity for babies up to 6 months, and it IS free of infection. For proper growth, children, after six months, require supplementary food which is not available due to some of the following reasons:
1 Increased financial burden, if the next child is born.
2 Because of ignorance, the best food is usually given to men who are supposed to be bread winners; children and women eat whatever is left.
3 Babies prefer breast milk, they are fussy about taste, and refuse new items included in the diet.
4 As most Indians can afford only vegetarian diet, it, therefore, becomes very difficult to . provide sufficient proteins to a child, unless the food is consumed in large quantities.
Due to meagre energy food and protein intake, the child gradually loses appetite and often develops weaning diarrhoea. It is generally believed that diarrhoea is due to teething. This is incorrect. In fact, diarrhoea during teething is due to infection. Because of sensation in the gums, babies like to chew hard things and also pick up whatever is lying on the floor. Thus, they get infection from dirt or from chewing unwashed vegetables, fruits, etc. This, often, misleads the mother, who further restricts the diet mainly to carbohydrate gruels. Thus, the child is deprived of the much needed protein diet.