Andhra nutrition policy to prevent low birth weight infants

Hyderabad: As low birth weight babies resulting from anaemia among pregnant women continues to remain a concern in Andhra Pradesh, the Women Development and Child Welfare Department in the state is working on a `Nutrition Policy` to address this issue.

The plan, still in its advanced stages of proposal, aims to put in place effective programmes by improving nutrition stature through distribution of supplementary nutrition, creating awareness on nutrition education in order to improve nutrition among women and children, a senior official said.

"Our indicators have revealed that there is not so much improvement in terms of percentage of children who are under weight when they are born or under weight when they are between 0-3 years and even the anaemia among pregnant women prevalence has not come down...In fact it has increased," Women Development and Child Welfare Department`s Principal Secretary Nilam Sawhney said.

As per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) data of 2005-06, the anaemia prevalence among pregnant women (15-49 years) was 37 per cent while the underweight children below six years was 42 per cent and similarly the underweight children below three years was 36.5 per cent (overall births) and there was not much improvement even till this year on these indicators, the official explained.

"In this scenario the need is being felt towards better designing of programmes on nutrition front and care for pregnant women. Now we are planning to come out with a `Nutrition Policy` to address the issue of low birth weight.

We are working on the modalities and once it is ready the proposal will be put forth before the Minister for Women Development and Child Welfare shortly to bring out the policy," Nilam Sawhney told PTI.

The department with the support of Government of India will this year also implement the programme of nutrition for adolescent girls (11-18 years) in seven districts of the state with a view to provide with nutrition supplements for future mothers, she said.