Vitamin deficiency is the most pervasive health issue among infants, say experts
India is making significant strides in improving child health and nutrition, yet every year millions of children succumb to the scourge of vitamins and minerals deficiency before their fifth birthday.
India is making significant strides in improving child health and nutrition, yet every year millions of children succumb to the scourge of vitamins and minerals deficiency before their fifth birthday. Lack of Vitamins and minerals is often termed as micronutrients deficiency which is one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity among infants.
Consequences of deficiency are so fierce, that out of 26 million babies born annually, more than 7 lakh don’t even survive infancy, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). Report by MOHFW also states that, with 13 per cent country population comprises children below age of six, out of which 12.7 lakh die every day on account of insufficient nutrient intake.
Dr Jyothy Chabria, Senior Consultant Dietician and Nutritionist, Women's Care Clinic, Hyderabad said, "It has been found from data that Indian infants experiencing growth spurt need nutrient dense food. They often lack sufficient intake of minerals and vitamins in their diet. As a result, their overall growth and immunity becomes compromised."
Leading causes of child mortality among children under 5 include pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and malaria where malnutrition is often an underlying cause. Dr Sudarshan Reddy, Pediatrician , Krishna Children Hospital, Hyderabad added, " As children turn six months old, their nutritional needs increases which cannot be met solely on breast milk.
Intake of complimentary vitamins and mineral dense food (i.e. vitamin and mineral enriched food, fortified grains/foods, iron/multi vitamin drops supplementation) alongside breast milk is crucial for child’s proper growth and overall development."
Experts find that gaps in micronutrient delivery is the highest when infant is moving from exclusive breast milk to semi-solid feeds, because the needs are going up whereas delivery is going down at the same time.
There is enough data to support that supplementation, fortification with essential micronutrients or proper intake of nutrient dense food are among the most effective solutions to combat micronutrient deficiency in infants.