VITAMIN B DEFICIENCIES
Vitamin B deficiencies are diseases caused by inadequate or absent B vitamins: B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), niacin, B-6 (pyridoxine), and B-12 (cyanocobalamin). Vitamins are organic chemicals that occur in many natural foods. They are necessary for normal body function. B vitamins are water soluble, and excess amounts cannot be stored by the body. Body parts involved include the central nervous system--including the brain, the coverings of the brain (meninges), and the spinal cord -- and peripheral nerves, as well as the heart, skin, eyes, and blood.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Hospitalization for severe malnutrition.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSB-1 deficiency (beriberi).
Tingling or loss of sensation in the legs; weakness; congestive heart failure; mental changes, including poor memory or psychosis; lack of urinary control; abdominal pain.
Cracked lips; pallor; sore tongue.
Niacin deficiency (pellagra).
Fatigue and weakness; poor appetite; inflamed skin that may blister, weep, and split; sore, burning mouth and tongue; indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea; mental changes, including confusion and psychosis.
Dermatitis; sore mouth and tongue; abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea; convulsions.
Pernicious anemia (uncommon in children).
One or several of the following deficiencies may exist in your child at the same time:
CAUSESMalnutrition, including malnutrition incurred from fad diets or malnutrition present in infants born to malnourished mothers.
Gastrointestinal diseases with poor absorption.
Stomach surgery (B-12 deficiency only).
Use of some medications, such as isoniazid or oral contraceptives, which inactivate vitamin B-6.
Improper diet; prolonged illness; pregnancy; smoking (maybe). Smoking decreases absorption of vitamin C and may affect other vitamins.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your family should eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Your child may need to take multiple-vitamin supplements if the diet is deficient.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies of vitamin levels.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSPermanent brain or nerve damage; severe heart disease.
Prompt recovery if your child's vitamin B deficiency is treated with proper nutrition and oral supplements in the early stages. Without treatment, severe malnutrition can cause permanent disability or death.
HOME CARENo specific instructions except those listed under other headings.
Your doctor may prescribe vitamin supplements, depending on the type of deficiency. The child should not take more than the prescribed amount. Excessive doses of vitamin B-6 can cause the same symptoms produced by deficiency.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Prepare well-balanced meals for your child. Don't overcook food or expose it to the air for prolonged periods -- these destroy vitamins. Use fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats rather than processed foods, if possible.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of vitamin B deficiency.