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Colgate University

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Program Name

India: Health and Human Rights


Malnutrition is often associated with starving children in developing countries. However, while calorie and protein deficiencies—macronutrient deficiencies—are a cause for concern, micronutrient deficiencies can be equally detrimental and are even more pervasive. The most prevalent micronutrient deficiency is anemia, and the story of anemia in India is particularly grim. India has the largest number of anemic people in the world and severe anemia is the cause of death for an average of 22,000 Indians each year (The Micronutrient Initiative 2006). Anemia rates are exacerbated for women and even more so for pregnant women. According to the most recent National Family Health Survey conducted in India in 2005-2006 (NFHS III), 55% of Indian women are anemic and 59% of pregnant Indian women are anemic, the highest rate in the world (IIPS 2005-2006). This rate is markedly higher than the average 51% of pregnant women in developing countries who are anemic and drastically higher than the 14% of pregnant women in developed countries who are anemic (Gogoi & Prusty 2013). Such a prevalence of maternal anemia has detrimental implications upon both maternal and child health. Indeed, anemia is the cause of 20% of all maternal deaths in India and an associated cause in 50% of them (MoHFW 2013). Significantly, 80% of all the maternal deaths in Asia attributed to anemia are in India. Maternal anemia also frequently leads to premature births, low birth weights, and peri and neonatal mortality (MoHFW 2013).


Health Services Research | Maternal and Child Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Pediatrics | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


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