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Alarming study reveals 56% of young girls & 30% of young boys in India are anemic.
One out of two adolescent girls suffers from anemia in India, which has the world’s largest adolescent population. Besides, 30% or one of every three young boy in the country is also anemic, putting a large chunk of the country’s young population at varied health risks, a latest assessment by the health ministry along with Unicef showed.
The large prevalence of the disease assumes significance also because adolescence marriage and pregnancy are common in India, particularly in rural areas. Anemia during pregnancy increases the risk for mortality and illness for the mother as well as the new born. Children born to anemic mothers also often have low reserves of iron which if left unaddressed can effect their growth and development.
An earlier study by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) had showed that 50% of India’s pregnant women are anemic enhancing the risk of maternal mortality as well as chances of delivering babies with low birth weight.
According to Unicef’s assessment, malnutrition is also significantly prevalent among adolescent girls in India while there is increased iron needs associated with physical growth and puberty. The trend among women is more significant in states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
India has the largest number of adolescents aged 10-19 years in the world. The government’s Weekly Iron & Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme will mainly target adolescent girls and boys between class 6 to 12 as well as out-of-school adolescent girls.