Parents, it’s important for your kids to have a balanced diet for many reasons, the most crucial of which is to maintain their health. Not eating a variety of food could give rise to many serious conditions. Recently, an 11-year-old boy found out the hard way when he was afflicted with one of the diseases caused by lack of vitamin A.
A recent study documented the child’s case where he gradually went blind due to his bad diet. Here’s what happened.
Diseases Caused by Lack of Vitamin A: Blindness
Not all of us are affected by allergies, but for those who are, choosing what to eat can be a pain. Sadly, restricting food intake to prevent allergic flares might not always be a good choice, as an 11-year-old boy learnt the hard way.
The child has a history of being allergic to food which would cause his eczema to flare. His mum, attempting to control the painful skin condition, set him up on a diet of only pork, lamb, potatoes, apples, cucumbers and Cheerios.
The consequences were much more serious, though. Such a restrictive diet meant he was not getting adequate nutrients, including vitamin A.
The 11-year-old boy is seen with a doctor in Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. | Image source: Global News
Eventually he was admitted to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. As detailed in a recent study, the doctors there found out that, within eight months, the child suffered symptoms including:
- gradual loss of vision
- night blindness
- increased sensitivity to light
- dry eyes
Dr Dustin Jacobson, the chief author of the study, explained that the child suffered from very severe eczema.
Other patients with allergies would have removed allergens like soy, milk and peanuts from their diet to cope with the disease. The boy’s mother was no different, gradually removing food that could cause his eczema to happen again. It didn’t help that he was a picky eater, too.
Sadly, it was too late when he consulted doctors. By then, the boy’s eyesight was blurry, only being able to notice hand motion within 30 centimetres: the legal classification for being blind. It wasn’t long before it clearly worsened to complete blindness.
Can Vision Loss from Vitamin A Deficiency Be Reversed?
Image source: iStock
After doctors had a better understanding of his condition, they treated him with vitamin A supplements. The boy was prescribed two megadoses of vitamin A taken daily, for two days, which was repeated again after two weeks. One megadose is about 100 times the suggested daily intake of vitamin A.
According to Jacobson, “His sight has improved with treatment, but it’s impossible to tell to what extent his vision will continue to improve. He is at risk of lifelong visual impairment.” He recommends vegetables and vitamin A supplements to be introduced to the boy’s meals.
Normally, as stated in the study, worsening eyesight from a lack of vitamin A can get better. However, if the condition has progressed too long and becomes established (like the 11 year-old-boy), it is likely to cause lifelong vision impairment.
Nutrition Tips for Parents
Parents, if this incident has taught us anything, it is to never limit what your child eats too restrictively. In the case of vitamin A, it’s responsible for maintaining healthy eyes, skin, and immune responses.
Some good sources of vitamin A include:
- sweet potatoes (skin on)
- other yellow or orange vegetables
- leafy green vegetables
- and eggs
Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A. | Image source: stock photos
Not having enough niacin, B12, zinc, vitamin D, iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients can pave the way for serious health issues. To prevent any issues, it helps to eat a variety of foods and maintain a balanced diet. According to the Health Promotion Board, there are four food groups which provide the essential nutrients:
1. Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread
Besides brown rice and wholemeal bread, other foods in this group include oats, wholegrain biscuits, and wholemeal chapatti. These foods are rich in carbohydrate and dietary fibre, and also supply vitamins and minerals.
Fruit contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Get your child into a routine of eating fruits by offering him a variety of brightly coloured fruit every day.
Image source: iStock
Eating vegetables play an important role in one’s health. They provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
4. Meat and others
This group includes foods like meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, nuts, beans, as well as dairy products. These foods are important sources of many nutrients, particularly protein, which is required for tissue building and growth.
Each food group offers a wide range of choices, and the food found in each group contains a combination of nutrients and other beneficial substances. Do help your child maintain a balanced diet by offering up a selection of different food from each of the four groups
Note: The featured and lead images are stock photos and for illustration purposes only. It does not depict the boy who contracted blindness in real life.
References: JAMA, Global News
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