Nutritional Patterns (dietary And Eaxtra-Dietary) In Pregnancy, Lactation' And Childhood Among The Abasamia.
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Experimental investigations have indicated that though some compounds contained in natural products used s food or medicine do not show any acute poisoning symptoms, they may produce illness in the subject a long time afterwards. Due to this, it becomes almost impossible to trace the connection between the cause and effect especially in humans. If such compounds are ingested by pregnant or lactating mothers, the toxins are much more likely to affect the young. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are hepatotoxic are particularly implicated and a suggestion has been made of the possibility that in eases where they are ingested during pregnancy, lactation or weaning, they may be responsible for the liver damage occurring in some cases of kwashiorkor in children. As an attempt to identify such compounds, this study inquired into the dietary patterns of pregnancy and lactation,as well as into the traditional medicines used at these times and in childhood. To obtain this information, over 200 women and 113 schoolgirls in the Samia locationof Busia District were interviewed. The findings show that the dietary patterns in pregnancy and lactation are similar to the daily pattern of the rest of the family. However despite the many types of food crops grown, the diet of the people is monotonous. It is believed that if a more varied diet was introduced in many of the families, there would probably be a reduction in the incidence of malnutrition. Traditional herbaI medicines feature more as non-food materials ingested by pregnant women than items of pica such as clay and ant-hill soil. There were in all, 155 medicinal plants reported from this area. Of these, 98 were particularly employed for various complaints of pregnancy, in child birth and as galactagogues. The rest were used for childhood diseases as well as other diseases of adults . The methods of application of anyone plant; vary to such a degree that the roots, leaves or flowers of the same plant may be used to treat the same illness. Furthermore, a plant may be used alone or in combination with others as a remedy for more than one disease. Only four of the plants that were botanically identified belonged to the genera whose species contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Two of the plants used as vegetables, namely, Crotalariarecta (Emito) and Solanum nigrum (Bauga) had records of toxicity whereas among those plants used mainly as medicines, Terminalia nollis and Euclea schimpari had such records. Although some of the plants may have defite remedial value, it would be desirable to carry out chemical, toxicological and pharmacological evaluations on then so as to ascertain that dosages are safe to use. At present there is no measure when these traditional medicines are used.