BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s kids are in need of some generous helpings of lentils, spinach and broccoli.
A study shows that iron deficiency or anaemia is growing rapidly among infants, children and teenagers in the city. In fact, as a child enters adolescence, chances of becoming anaemic increase.
The numbers are alarming and suggest that urban children may not have wholesome diets. The study says that around 40% of children in Bengaluru in the age group of 0-20 years are found to be anaemic. In the 0-10 age group, around 35% of children tested showed abnormally low levels of haemoglobin, and this increased to 41% among children in the age group of 10-20 years.
Dr Farhana Afroz, chief nutritionist, Healthcare Global Hospital, said, “Children aren’t given foods rich in iron and Vitamin C every day. Vitamin C is important for better absorption of iron. So citrus foods are as important as iron-rich foods. The intake has to be on a daily basis and not once in a while.”
The study found that the most common form of anaemia is Iron Deficiency Anaemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate red blood cells (RBCs) due to insufficient iron. There could be other reasons for a child to suffer from anaemia, and some of the conditions may be genetic too.
Aplastic Anaemia occurs when the bone marrow is unable to make enough RBCs. G6PD deficiency can also occur where there is a lack of the enzyme that protects RBCs from byproducts of medication or disease.
Dr Ravi Kumar, chief of lab, RV Metropolis, a diagnostic company which conducted the study, said, “It is important to consume foods rich in iron. Vitamin C helps in absorption of iron and should always be included in the diet. Another thing to keep in mind is that tea and coffee interfere with the absorption of iron, so it is important to time your supplements well. Monitoring haemoglobin levels is also important for an anaemic person.”
Other reasons for anaemia could be thalassemia, where RBCs are destroyed at a faster rate than they are produced. Sickle Cell Disease is another cause of anaemia, where red blood cells change to a sickle shape, and are unable to move freely in the body, leading to oxygen deprivation in the body’s tissues and organs. Newborns are usually tested for G6PD deficiency and thalassemia.