In a detailed state wise analysis of the prevalence of anemia and malnutrition in children, Bihar has emerged as the worst performing state with maximum number of children affected with anemia. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of children with stunted growth. Further, Madhya Pradesh recorded maximum percentage of underweight children.
As per the latest figures released by the government of India, 79.2 percent of children aged 6-35months are anemic. 42.5 percent are underweight and 47.9 percent are children with stunted growth.
Dr Sangeeta Subudhi, consultant pediatrics, Fortis Hospital, Delhi, identified improper maternal dietary condition as the reason behind such poor performance. She told ZRG, “Illiteracy, poverty and improper supply of micronutrients are the key factors responsible for anemia and malnourishment in children. India is one such country where on one hand obesity is a problem and on the other, malnourishment.”
In Bihar, 87.6 percent of children aged 6-35 months are anemic followed by Uttar Pradesh (85.1 percent) and Karnataka (82.7percent). Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab also recorded a high percentage of anemic children.
Ajaa, child rights programme officer, Chetanalaya (a Delhi based NGO) said while talking to ZRG, “The rise in anemic children in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is attributed to the poor health of pregnant and lactating mothers. Poverty is also an issue. There is lack of awareness among women in these areas. Moreover, women and children in these areas do not follow a proper dietary pattern.”
However, Goa emerged as the top state with minimum number of anemic children. Only49.3 percent children in Goa are anemic. Northeastern states came out as better performers with lesser number of anemic children.
60 percent of children in Madhya Pradesh are underweight followed by Jharkhand (56.5 percent) and Bihar (55.9 percent).
Ajaa at Chetanalaya further lamented, “Malnutrition is like a cycle, it runs from the mother to the child. It is extremely important for the pregnant and lactating mothers to get nutritive food during pregnancy and nursing. The family members of the pregnant women should take special care of the mother.”