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Iron Deficiency Anemia among children of Pakistan

The most common type of anemia observed in children as well as in women is Iron deficiency anemia, which is a very common nutritional deficiency seen around the world. Iron deficiency anemia is a particular form of anemia in which the blood does not contain enough healthy red blood cells. The oxygen-carrying red blood cells transport oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is caused by a absence of iron in the body. Your body can’t generate enough of a material in red blood cells that helps them to hold oxygen if you don’t have enough iron (hemoglobin). Iron deficiency anemia can make you tired and short of breath as a result.

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Many iron-fortified formulations and cereals help it to reduce the occurrence of the disease, but it still exists. Iron is needed for the formation of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all of the body’s cells. Iron is absorbed through the body via the gastrointestinal tract, where it is converted into hemoglobin, ferritin, and hemosiderin. The hemoglobin produced during the process is then stored in the body until it is needed. If the body does not get enough iron, it will be unable to produce the hemoglobin it needs, resulting in anemia. An iron deficiency can cause a variety of issues with a child’s mental development and motor skills, as well as later-life behavioral issues. There is a great deal of knowledge available about the prevalence of this deficiency in children, as well as potential causes and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

In developing countries 46% to 66% of children less than 4 years of age are anemic and 50% of them have iron deficiency anemia. Its occurrence among the Pakistani children is nearly 65%. According to many reports 65-78% of the children under the age of 5 years are suffering from iron deficiency with the low level of HB below 11g/dL. According to another survey, the occurrence of anemia was estimated to be 83% among pregnant women, 78% in breast-feeding women, 85% in adolescent girls and 82.9% in children respectively. There are many studies from semi urban areas of Pakistan to determine iron deficiency anemia occurrence among children under 2 years showed iron deficiency anemia prevalence of 68% and 69% respectively. Similarly, prevalence of iron deficiency anemia was measured to be 61% with low levels of HB in children aged 6 months to 5 years in urban slums of Karachi. In this study we found that the preschool children of Karachi rural areas have a high prevalence of 78.7% anemia and low hematocrit (63.8%).

According to the available data the presence of iron deficiency anemia in Pakistan shows that iron deficiency is the leading cause of all types of anemia in children. There are several other factors that have been identified as poverty, consumption of cereal based diets with low levels of iron, inappropriate habits of diets, personal hygiene and lack of sanitation that increase the development of anemia among the vulnerable population of Pakistan. In Pakistani children, growth retardation, impaired cognition, and decreased physical activity is also present. According to a data 39% of adolescents, 30% boys and 54% girls among 40-50% of preschool and primary school children and 69% of children under age 2 were reported to be affected by iron deficiency anemia in Pakistan. According to WHO (world health organization), iron deficiency anemia is a big health problem among preschool children in Pakistan.

There are many factors that cause iron deficiency anemia in children from age 6 months to 5 years or above. Iron deficiency in infants can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the most common causes is the consumption of cow’s milk before the age of one. Cow’s milk lacks the iron required for growth and development, and it can irritate the lining of the intestines, resulting in minor bleeding and the potential for the body to lose even more iron. Another cause of anemia in children is an iron deficiency is their diet. Because the body only absorbs about 5 to 10% of the iron it consumes, a child’s diet must contain enough iron to ensure proper growth and development. The amount of red blood cells produced in the body increases during growth spurts and body changes, especially in the first two to four years of life, causing the body to require more iron. When a child’s regular diet is deficient in iron, he may need to take a supplement. Premature birth can cause a reduction in nutrient absorption from the mother’s body, necessitating iron supplementation. Iron deficiency anemia is less commonly caused by blood loss from an injury or minor blood loss through the gastrointestinal or urinary tract. Gastrointestinal diseases can also cause bleeding and prevent the intestines from absorbing enough iron from a regular diet. Because surgery can cause similar problems, the child’s doctor must keep a close eye on these factors to ensure that the child does not develop iron deficiency anemia.

The children with iron deficiency anemia show many symptoms which may include weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, pale skin, dizziness, irritability, a fast heartbeat, abnormal shortness of breath while exercising, and cold hands and feet. A desire for unusual substances such as dirt or ice can occur in rare cases. A blood test is done to determine the levels of hemoglobin and hematocrit in the blood to determine the iron levels in the body and it can be used to diagnose IDA iron deficiency anemia. He may also decide to conduct additional testing to determine the effects of anemia on the child’s body. He can treat the child by putting him on an iron-rich diet, giving him an oral or intravenous iron supplement or in severe cases, transfusing him, depending on the age of the child, the severity of the case, and the root cause of the condition. The child should be monitored for a while until his iron and hemoglobin levels in the body return to normal; after that, he should have regular checkups to avoid a relapse.

While anemia cannot always be avoided, parents can take steps to ensure that their child does not develop iron deficiency anemia. They can, for example, ensure that no child under the age of one takes cow’s milk. After four months of age, babies should eat iron-enriched cereal or take an iron supplement to avoid deficiency. Use a low-iron formula only if your child’s doctor suggests it. A maximum of three cups (24 ounces) of cow’s milk per day should be consumed by children with age brackets of 12 to 24 months. Parents must also ensure that all solid-food-eating children get enough iron from the food they eat such as meat, chicken, fish, whole grains, enriched bread and cereals, dark green vegetables, and beans. Vitamin C aids iron absorption and is an important component of a well-balanced diet, so yogurt and cheese are also good choices. On the other hand, too much iron can be just as harmful as too little, so iron supplements should only be given to infants and children if they are prescribed by a doctor. Doctors usually check for iron deficiency as part of a child’s routine checkups, so parents should talk to their child’s doctor if they have any concerns about their child’s diet or nutritional needs.

Pakistan is among the developing nations and it has been the potential victim of the disease burden. Approximately, 3 billion US dollars are spent each year to treat this disease with micro-nutrients deficiencies. Several measures have been suggested to restrain from IDA iron deficiency anemia on the child’s health and child’s nutritional issues, good nutrition for women during pregnancy will result in safer birth outcomes. Fighting with IDA among infants and adults will save billions of dollars annually in the shape of better intellectual performance and increased productivity for our future generations and it will lead to better health conditions and economic growth.

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Category: Health

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