‘Micronutrient bites’ led to striking reduction in anaemic children: study

When the study concluded, it was noticed that anemia reduced from 46% to 10.1% among children who received the added micronutrient bites.Representational photo  

Project Grow Smart, a study conducted by the ICMR-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has shown that adding a multiple micronutrient powder to the first bites of the meal in anganwadi centres has resulted in a striking reduction in anaemia among children aged between 3-6 years old.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, US, at 22 anganwadis of Nalgonda district. The centres were randomised into a group that got micronutrients (which include iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B2) or a placebo group (only vitamin B6).

Anganwadi staff were trained to mix the micronutrients/placebo powder into a small portion of the cooked noon meal and serve it as the first few bites. The duration of the study was eight months and the intervention was provided on every school day (six days per week) during that period.

After eight months, it was noticed that anaemia reduced from 46% to 10.1% among children who received the added micronutrient bites, as compared to a 47% to 35.5% reduction among children without the added micronutrients (placebo group), with corresponding improvements in iron status.

The study also found that adding micronutrients led to gains in children’s language of about six points (equivalent to IQ points), in social-emotional development of about 4.5 points, and in inhibitory control of about three points. “These are significant gains. These gains in children’s health and neurobehavioral development mean that the children are better prepared to learn and to take advantage of opportunities in primary school, and beyond, advancing human capital development,” said Sylvia F Rao, scientist and lead investigator from ICMR-NIN.

“This can be a cost-effective way to improve the health and neurobehavioral development of more than 2.5 crore preschool age children (3-6 years) that anganwadi centres serve throughout the country” she said. Anaemia and iron deficiency are widespread (40.5%) among preschool children in India, largely due to nutrition insecurity and low iron and other micronutrient diets.

The strategy adopted in the study can be stepped up to effectively combat anaemia among young children taking advantage of the infrastructure of the ICDS-Anganwadi Centres, she added.

The study funded by Micronutrient Initiative, Canada and Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition, USA was published in the recent issue of the globally renowned Journal of Nutrition. Full research paper - https://academic.oup.com/jn/advancearticle/doi/10.1093/jn/nxab066/6242430.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 11:05:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/micronutrient-bites-led-to-striking-reduction-in-anaemic-children-study/article34580524.ece

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