Iron deficiency leaves 53% of children in Maharashtra anemic

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PUNE: A staggering 51% of Indian women under the reproductive age are anemic, which is higher than the world wide prevalence of around 46.8 crore non-pregnant women worldwide. Around 48% of women are suffering from anemia in the state, as well as prevalence of the disease is as high as 53% of children in the state.

So, why the prevalence of anemia in women is so high?

“As anemia is caused due to iron deficiency in the body, it has been seen that women are most affected by the disease. This is primarily because a majority of women in India does not have balanced and nutritional diet because of various social and economic factors.”, explained Dr. Mukta Paul, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Pune.

“India is facing a double edged sword of obesity and malnutrition. Even though the infant mortality has improved, it is not enough. Due to lack of nutrition in children and rising obesity, the rates of anemic children are rapidly rising.”, Dr. Mukta added.

“In addition, pregnancy and blood loss due to menstruation causes iron deficiency in women.  The hormonal changes during various stages of adolescence, lactation, menopause, and pregnancy create more demand for iron and calcium. Blood loss also happens during child birth, which contributes to anemia. Iron deficiency results in impaired formation of hemoglobin,” , it said.

In India, low dietary intake or iron (less than 20 mg /day) and folic acid intake (less than 70 micrograms/day) is contributing to the increased prevalence of the disease.  Women, especially in the Indian context, are known to put their dietary and health needs secondary to family due to various socio-cultural factors.

There is an urgent need of spreading awareness across the country to put focus back on women’s health and nutrition.

Anemia is preventable and a good diet plays a crucial role in avoiding the disease.

To treat the disease, it is important to get the patient diagnosed of any underlying cause for bleeding and treating it. Apart from following a healthy nutritional diet, patients are prescribed iron and vitamin C supplements. Severe cases are usually treated by blood transfusion.

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