Vitamin B12, iron deficiency is leading cause
Anemia cases have increased in girls aged between 15 and 19 in Bengaluru over the years.
According to the fifth National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 45.1 per cent of girls in this age group have anemia. among these girls, an increase of almost 5 per cent since NFHS-4.
Hetesvi Gadhia, a nutritionist at Leelavati Hospital, Mumbai, informed The Observer: “Iron deficiency is the most common and leading cause of anemia. A healthy diet, rich in vitamins and iron, is very important for one’s growth.”
About anemia in teenagers, she said: “Teenage… is when a child should focus on his/her diet. Not getting enough nutritious food leads to anemia.”
“In some cases, vitamin B12 deficiency causes anemia, not iron. For this, one has to eat leafy vegetables, meat, cheese, etc,” she added.
India is ranked 101 out of 116 countries as per the Global Hunger Index, 2021. India’s score on GHI indicators is 27.5, indicating that it has a serious level of hunger.
A study published in the journal of the United States National Library of Medicine, talks about the harmful effects of anemia on adolescent children, especially girls. It says school-going girls and those in early adolescence are more prone to develop iron deficiency. This deficiency leads to many non-hematological disturbances, including growth and development issues; depressed immune function in infants; reduced physical work capacity; and decreased cognitive function in both infants and adolescents. It can also act as a threat to safe motherhood.
S. Sridhar, Director of Nutrition, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, informed The Observer: “There are various schemes in order to overcome anemia in the state. To talk about Bengaluru, anemia is very common in pregnant women and children below the age of six years.”
About the high prevalence of anemia in adolescent children, he said: “There are no schemes specifically dedicated to them. But they can always go to the nearest PHC and get themselves treated.”
The Ministry of Women and Child Development had introduced a scheme called ‘Kishori Shakti Yojana’ that seeks to empower adolescent girls to enable them to take charge of their lives. The scheme aims at bringing about a difference in the lives of adolescent girls. It seeks to provide them with an opportunity to realize their full potential.
The main objectives of the scheme are:
- Improving the nutritional health and development status of adolescent girls
- Promoting awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition and family care
- Helping girls to go back to school
- Helping them gain a better understanding of their social environment
- Taking initiatives to help girls become productive members of society
“Poshan Abhiyaan”, launched in 2018, is another government programme to improve nutrition, especially among children and pregnant women. Rakhee JC, a dietician and nutritionist, said: “Staying hydrated and exercising regularly is a must. It is advisable that instead of taking vitamin B12 tablets, one should eat food rich in B12, like mushroom, yogurt, cheese, etc. Of course, one should always see if you aren’t allergic to it.”
Anaemia results from a lack of red blood cells or dysfunctional red blood cells in the body. This leads to reduced oxygen flow to the body’s organs. Symptoms may include fatigue, skin pallor, shortness of breath, light-headedness, dizziness or a fast heartbeat.