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Some diseases seem to effect people from some cultural background than others. Other people are spared by diseases due to the biocultural characteristics. A good example is the immunity conferred on Africans with sickle cell trait against Malaria. Blacks with the sickle cell and their children tend to survive Malaria attacks (Andres & Bolye, 2016). Another biocultural aspects is the emergence of childhood disorders due to intermarriage among certain groups of people. For example, ventricular septal defects among the Amish is related to intermarriage. Also, amyloidosis is common among Maryland/ German and Indian/Swiss families. According to Mahmoudian, D., & Amin, D. (2018) mental retardation among British children is also related to intermarriages.
There is also a link between race and childhood disorders. For example, sickle cell anaemia is common among blacks and people of Mediterranean origin. Cystic fibrosis is also common among white children than other races. Congenital hypothyroidism and phenylketonuria are common among Chinese and Asian children (Tiwari, Bandyopadhyay & Saha, 2019). Among black children, there is a high risk of G-6-PD deficiency and haemoglobin C disease. Ethnicity also seem to influence the chances of children developing diseases. Ethnicity is related with tuberculosis in North America with some groups being affected more than the rest. A good example is Tay-Sachs disease. According to Echeverri et al. (2018), Tay-Sachs disease that is likely to affect Ashkenazi Jews children.
There are significant ethnic, racial and gender differences in the growth of children among different cultures. Since the development process takes place in a context of culture, the development of the infant, child and adolescent is influenced. A good example is the difference in language development between aboriginal people in Canada compare to the general population. Another observable characteristic is in terms of body size and stature. For example, African American children have been noted to be three-fourth inch shorter than white children in most stages of development (Andres & Bolye, 2016). Also, children of higher social-economic status are taller than poor children in most cultures.
Most cultures see illnesses as a form of punishment with children suffering from chronic illnesses and their families often being seen as cursed. Chronic illnesses are often seen to come from supreme beings such as gods to children and families where there is seen or violation of a taboo. A family with where a child suffers chronic illness is often discussed in the community. The most type of chronic illnesses that are related with supernatural causes are inherited disorders (Andres & Bolye, 2016). A family curse that is passed from one generation to the next is often seen as the cause of inherited diseases.
Religious and philosophical beliefs often affect how genetic diseases are interpreted in most cultures. Among some communities such as the Latinos, chronic diseases are believed to be caused by imbalance between hot and cold within a child. As such the cause and cure of the disease is within the child and they must seek to establish an equilibrium by regaining balance. If the disability is permanent and cannot be healed are perceived as unclean and impure. According to Andres & Bolye (2016), even when an explanation of genetic transmission is explained, families still believe in supernatural causes such as curses and bad blood. When disabilities are seen as divine punishment, a result of personal state of impunity or inherited evil, the child become a shame to a family.
While most cultural explanations of causes of chronic diseases are negative, a few are positive. For example, among Mexican Americans, there is a believe that a certain number of disabled children would be born in the world. Also, Mexican Catholics believe that God singled them for the role of taking care of disabled or diseased child after observing their kindness. As such, these will received quality care to fulfill Gods will.
- In Hispanic cultures, Pujos (grunting) is a disease whose symptoms include grunting sounds and protrusion of the umbilicus. Hispanics believe that Pujos (grunting) is caused by contact with a woman undergoing menstruation. It can also come when the infant comes to contact with the mother if she menstruates less than 60 days after delivery.
- For a child with Mal de ojo (evil eye) dehydration is a common symptom and a serious threat. Often a nurse will need to plan for immediate fluid and electrolyte replacement (Andres & Bolye, 2016). Other symptoms of the problem among the Hispanics include the child becoming listless, crying, experiencing fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Caida de la mollera (fallen fontanel) among Hispanics comes with such signs as fever, crying, vomiting and diarrhea. It is common for nurses to see these condition together with dehydration due to the loss of water from vomiting and diarrhea (Andres & Bolye, 2016). As such, rehydration to raise the fontanel is a common treatment among parents.
- Empacho (a digestive disorder) is a gastrointestinal sickness that cause internal fever that may not be observed. Excessive thirst, and abdominal swelling hence children with the condition tend to take excessive amounts of water. The disease is linked to supernatural causes among the Hispanics.
Andres, A.M. & Bolye, J.S. (2016). Transcultural Concepts in Nursing Care (7th ed.). ISBN 978-1-4511-9397-8
Echeverri, N., Terhaar, C., Bardos, J. D., & Longman, R. (2018). Tay-Sachs: An Ashkenazi Jewish Disease or Not?[26E]. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 131, 59S.
Mahmoudian, D., & Amin, D. (2018). Successful Treatment of Severe Mentally Retarded Child by Homeopathy. Asian Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 1(1-2), 22-26.
Tiwari, A. K., Bandyopadhyay, D., & Saha, B. (2019). A preliminary report on newborn screening of inborn metabolic disorders. Indian Journal of Child Health, 39-41.