Ninety-six children were admitted to Tembisa Hospital in Ekurhuleni for severe acute malnutrition last year, reveals hospital spokesperson Nothando Mdluli.
The problem, Mdluli says, is an inadequate diet, which doesn’t support accelerated growth in children under the age of five years old. This involves taking children off breast milk too early and replacing it with overly diluted milk formulas, rooibos tea, and water.
Mdluli says rooibos tea is one of the causes of malnutrition seen at the hospital. “Rooibos is given instead of nutritious milk feeds, [which supports the] rapid growth in the first few years of life, especially under three years old.”
Dietician Edna Nkwana says that rooibos tea has no nutritional value. “Guidelines state that mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months [and thereafter] they can gradually introduce other foods as the child grows.