Mumbai News: Over 63,000 Children Found Anaemic In Maharashtra In Last 7 Months

Mumbai News: Over 63,000 Children Found Anaemic In Maharashtra In Last 7 Months

Anaemia is an indicator of inadequate iron in the body and could lead to symptoms such as breathlessness, irregular heartbeat or malnutrition

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, September 01, 2023, 12:15 AM IST
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Mumbai News: Over 63,000 Children Found Anaemic In Maharashtra In Last 7 Months | FPJ

Mumbai: More than 63,000 children in the age group of 0 to 18 years have been diagnosed with anaemia across Maharashtra in the last seven months, reveals the data provided by the state health department under ‘Jagruk Paalak, Sudrud Baalak' (aware parents, healthy children) campaign.

Over 2.25 crore children across 36 districts of the state have been screened for the four ‘Ds’ – diseases, deficiencies, defects and developmental disorders – under this state campaign until February 23.

“Of these, as many as 1,76,488 children were found with various deficiencies, including highest 63,247 with moderate or severe anaemia a medical condition in which there are not enough red cells in the blood,” said a doctor.

Anaemia symptoms

Anaemia is an indicator of inadequate iron in the body and could lead to symptoms such as breathlessness, irregular heartbeat or malnutrition. It can be easily treated with improved diet and iron supplements, but the country has been struggling to check it despite having a national control programme. Moreover, anaemic children and adolescents result in poor intellectual ability, school performance and physical development.

A senior health official said that while a number of affected children in Maharashtra and Mumbai may seem high, most possibly have borderline anaemia. “It is the result of improper feeding habits. The poor breastfeed their baby for many years, resulting in children getting inadequate nutrients. Breastfeeding among the affluent class is not long enough while the middle class replace breast milk with animal milk which has poor bioavailability of nutrients,” he said.

Screening of children

Dr Santosh Mane, assistant health officer, the state health department, said for the first time such screening of children is being done in a large number. While the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram and Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram cater to the health of children and adolescents, they only focus on government school students.

“We had targeted children from private schools and out-of-school children too, including those at the orphanage,” he said. As per the health department, a person or child with 8-11.4g per decilitre of haemoglobin is considered mild to moderate anaemic, while those with less than 8g per decilitre of haemoglobin are considered severe anaemic.

Under the Union government’s policy, iron tablets are given to all adolescent girls, young women and pregnant women. The strategy is simple, strong mothers give birth to strong children.

Treatment

“We have, however, seen that compliance and palatability is the primary problem with children. The Indian Association of Paediatrics (IAP) had suggested some out-of-the-box recommendations to the government. If a child is confirmed anaemic, the treatment can include 2-3mg of iron per kg of child’s weight, for which the child must be de-wormed first. If the child is on the verge of becoming anaemic or is a picky eater or not have any good source of nutritious food, 2mg of iron per kg of child's weight should be continued for three months,” said a senior paediatrician. However, the existing nutritional guidelines are good enough to curb anaemia and this cannot be done by the government alone.

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