Maternal under-nutrition cause of infant deaths in Attappady: study

: A study by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, on the death of tribal infants in Attappady noted that “high maternal under-nutrition of 48 per cent of adult women leading to chronic energy deficiency” resulted in the death of a large number of infants.

‘A rapid assessment of the nutritional status of under-five-year tribal children and mothers of Attappady Hills and cause of infant death by verbal autopsy’ by the Institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research said “the prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting among under-five-year children was 48.5 per cent. The prevalence of under-nutrition was higher compared to other tribal children (NNMB 2009) as well as other rural counterparts (NNMB 2012).”

The report suggested that various health and nutrition interventions and development programmes be properly implemented.

“In addition to high under-nutrition, many pregnant women were suffering from complicated pregnancies like pregnancy-induced hypertension, diabetes, and infection leading to high abortion rate, still birth and premature birth. Further studies are required to answer the problem more scientifically.”

It revealed that dietary intake, compared to the suggested level of balanced diet, was in general poor. This also reflected in the presence of high prevalence of under-nutrition among the tribal population of Attappady, which was more or less similar to the tribes in other parts of Kerala.

The report recommended the need to improve healthcare both in the accessibility, availability, and utilisation of the same by regular home visits by health personnel. “The implementation of national nutrition and health intervention programmes like iron and folic acid, massive dose of Vitamin A supplementation, and immunisation is poor,” it said.

The report said the average monthly per capita income of the family was Rs.787 among the people of Attappady. Thus their food and nutrient intake was lower than the suggested level of ICMR 2010.

It wanted the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to be strengthened and provide maximum employment opportunities, especially during lean periods of the year.

“Hospitals should be well equipped and developed with experienced health personnel to manage all the risk pregnancies.”

The study found that of the 93.8 per cent institution deliveries, 65.3 per cent were done in private hospitals in Attappady and only 24.5 per cent in government hospitals.

The six-member study team was headed by A. Laxmiah of the National Institute of Nutrition.