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Times of India
04 Aug 2011
By, Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi , India

Over 40% Children Below 5 Anaemic
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Over 40% of children aged between 0–5 years suffer from anaemia in India, according to a paper published in the British medical journal Lancet on Tuesday.

It affects 1.62 billion or a quarter of the global population, including 293 million (47%) children below 5 years and 468 million (30%) non–pregnant women.

Though the prevalence of anaemia is estimated at 9% in developed countries, it is 43% in developing countries. It’s the cause of over 1.15 lakh maternal deaths and 5.91 lakh pre–natal deaths globally per year. Asia and Africa account for over 85% of the absolute anemia burden in high–risk groups.

Speaking to TOI, Dr S V Subramanium of Harvard School of Public Health said, “India is among the countries with the highest anaemia figures. Anaemia cases may have worsened in some states.” (See box).

Anaemia depends on many socio–economic factors, including household wealth, says the study.

The analysis showed that the risk of anaemia among women and children living in poorer households was higher than in richer households. Also, uneducated women were more likely to be anaemic. “The WHO Global Database on anaemia for 1993–2005 estimated the prevalence of anaemia worldwide at 25%,” said Dr Subramanium’s study.

Anaemia in India is high because of low–dietary intake, poor availability of iron and chronic blood loss due to hookworm infestation. Reduced iron intake decreases haemoglobin count. As a result, the oxygen reaching tissues falls, retarding cell and tissue growth, a condition called anaemia.

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