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GAIN study finds 50% of pregnant Indian women to be anaemic

Posted:  Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Iron deficiency anaemia is one of the biggest monsters that a woman has to brave in her lifetime. Now a worrying result from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) study finds that a whopping 50% of pregnant Indian women to be anaemic. This could significantly raise the risk of maternal mortality as well as the chances of delivering low birth weight infants or stunting in the offspring.

The study found increased incidence of malnutrition related diseases in women when compared to men and children. Statistics showed that 34%of women reported overweight/obesity in comparison to 27% of men. Additionally, the study observed a significant trend of anaemia among the Indian states of Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Jacking up the worry, the report also found anaemia to be rampant among 5 year olds; with 74% reporting this condition. The researchers of the study believe that exposure to under-nutrition in pregnancy could be the causative factor. A 2013 UNICEF report highlighted poor dietary iron intake and general nutrition among adolescent girls which sets the stage for iron deficiency anaemia later in life too.

Anaemia and under-nutrition could cause the imminent generation to be stunted with poor brain development and academic grades. "The poor status of adolescent girls in India and their poor diet perpetuate a vicious cycle of nutrition deprivation that passes on from mother to daughters, from one generation to the next," found the UNICEF report.

Iron requirements go up especially in adolescence and in pregnancy. To nip the problem of anaemia in the bud, adolescent girls should be educated about the importance of a nutritious diet which fulfils the iron requirement too. This would ensure a healthy pregnancy and healthy progeny thus breaking the vicious cycle.

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