A paper published in Scientific Reports pointed out that 58.5% of Indian children below 5 years of age are anaemic.
- The study carried out by the team from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health used data from the National Fertility and Health Survey (2015-16) to analyse one lakh children across the country.
- The study found that socio-economic factors as the major reason for high anaemic children in the country.
- The wealth of the family, the maternal age, the type of residences children reside in, maternal education are the major reasons for the high incidence of anaemia in children of the country.
- As per the researchers, maternal education plays a very important role in reducing anaemia in children in any society and it is more so in India.
- An educated mother will take appropriate steps to prevent anaemia.
- In India, there is an inverses relationship between maternal education and childhood anaemia.
- More is the level of mother’s education, less is the incidence of anaemia in the child.
- The research also found that even in rich households there was a high incidence of anaemia at 52.9%. In the poorest households, it was 63.2%.
- Overall, the study has found that the vitamin A and iron intake is lower than the recommended level.
- The researchers state that for any comprehensive intervention, not only the maternal influence but paternal and household influence must be taken into account in India.
Anaemia and Premature Delivery
- Globally, it has been found that anaemia in the mother will lead to premature delivery of a baby which will lead to anaemia in the child.
- Thus, interventions must also involve addressing the mother’s health.
- The age of the mother also has an inverse relationship anaemia in children, the study found.
- Young mothers (15-19 years age group) tend to be more anaemic and they are powerless in ensuring the right food for their children.
- Also, the power dynamics in a household is also at play in children becoming anaemic in India.
The new study calls for immediate intervention in bringing out a new policy based on the research to tackle childhood anaemia as the existing anaemia control programmed has not been a success.