ANAEMIA IN CHILDREN: A SHOCKING REALITY AND WAYS TO OVERCOME IT

ANAEMIA IN CHILDREN: A SHOCKING REALITY AND WAYS TO OVERCOME IT

A shocking reality has come up that more than half of the kids under 5 years of age in India are anaemic. According to recently released family health survey (NFHS 4), over 58% of children below five years of age are anaemic which means they suffer from insufficient hemoglobin in the blood, making them prone to infections, leaving them tired and possibly affecting their brain development.

Anaemia can be due to different causes such as iron deficiency, folic acid deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency and deficiency of vitamin C. However, most common is iron deficiency anaemia that occurs commonly in girls than boys.
 



It has been shown that maximum brain development takes place under 5 years of age in which iron plays a vital role. It has been nicely said that prevention is better than cure. So, preventing iron deficiency anaemia in the first place can help kids avoid long term behavioral and learning problems. Here are some tips:

  • Kids less than six months of age should be exclusively breast fed. He can have adequate amounts of iron upto 4 months of age.

  • After that above 6 months, they should be given iron rich supplementary feeding in the form of semisolid foods like gruels and khichdi.

  • Select iron rich formula milk if the child is on powder or formula feed.

  • For kids under 5 years, iron rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole pulses, rice flakes, bajra, jowar, ragi, dry fruits like almonds, cashew nuts can be given.

  • Animal foods like lean meat, poultry and fish are good sources of bio-available heme iron. They are better absorbed than plant foods.

  • Vitamin C rich fruits like amla, guava, citrus fruits or a glass of citrus juice taken along with meals can help to improve iron absorption from plant foods.

  • Milk is a complete food for children but it is low in iron content. Milk can make the children feel full. Care should be taken that its quantity should not be such that it affects the intake of other foods rich in iron.

  • Iron fortified products can be a good way to help children to get more iron.

  • Try cooking in cast iron pans which can help enrich the food with iron.

  • If the child is on any iron supplements, avoid giving them milk or caffeinated drinks because both prevent the iron from absorbing well. So, these tips can help prevent your child from iron deficiency anaemia.