Anaemia common in north Indian children: Study

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New Delhi: Anaemia is exceptionally common in children from north India, especially in affluent sections of the population, says a study.

The study 'Prevalence and predictors of anaemia in a population of north Indian children' was conducted by the International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences.

The study was conducted in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) region. The parents considered for the study were well aware of the importance of nutrition and were fairly accomplished to bear its cost as well, a statement said here Monday.

Data indicates that anaemia prevalence among affluent Indian families ranges from a significant 19 percent to whopping 88 percent across five cities.

"The diets given to children are often loaded with fats and sugars and deficient in micronutrients. Moreover, the easy options of fast and processed foods further widen the daily gap in nutrition. Thus, mothers must take special care when it comes to monitoring their child's growth well," said Sanjeev Bagai, senior consultant pediatrician, vice chairman and director dean, Manipal hospital, Dwarka.

Other micronutrients which are widely deficient in the same group include folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B12.

"Although the demands for energy and protein are met, the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are often lacking in children's diet," Bagai added.

Micronutrient deficiencies affect cognition and physical performance of children. There is also the potential for childhood micronutrient deficiencies to have long-term effects that affect health and productivity in adulthood.

Bagai said alongside ensuring a balance diet, including fortified foods and drinks in daily nutrition could improve the situation considerably.

"Micronutrients play an essential role in metabolic processes of our body. Generally required in small amounts, our body stores these micronutrients and their deficiency could lead to serious health complications in children," he said.

"Food based interventions like including nutrient rich vegetables, fruits and nuts can definitely help meet demands. Supplementation of micronutrients by including fortified drinks can go a long way in bridging the gap in daily nutrition," Bagai said.

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