Infants below six months of age are exclusively breast-fed. So, mother’s food habits play an important role in their well-being. In the southern and northeastern parts of India, the staple food is polished rice.
Consumption of polished rice, which is bereft of the nutritious outer layer rich in Vitamin B1, deprives breast milk of nutrition. This directly leads to heart failure in new born babies, a study has found.
The largest study conducted by the Department of Paediatric Cardiology at the Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research (SJICR) over six years, showed this alarming link between maternal diet and heart function. Paediatric cardiologists Dr Usha MK Sastry and Dr Jayranganath M undertook this study.
During this period, 250 babies below six months of age were admitted with problems of rapid breathing, vomiting and inability to breast feed. Evaluation revealed elevated pressures in the right side of the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs.
Called Pulmonary Hypertension is related to the deficiency of a vitamin in the breast milk and can be treated with a common, easily available vitamin called Thiamine or Vitamin B1. Of the 250 babies who were admitted to the hospital, 230 had dramatic and complete improvement and were cured of the disease.
This research was recently published in a leading journal: The Journal of Archives of Diseases in Childhood.
Dr C N Manjuanth, director, SJICR, said, “Providing new mothers with a diet rich in red rice, parboiled rice, ragi, millets, with abundant milk and vegetables can provide a robust diet rich in all vitamins, improve the quality of breast milk and can prevent this life threatening disease in the vulnerable new born.”