Indian Kids Grapple With Micronutrient Deficiency & Anemia

In India, 6 out of 10 children aged under-5 suffer from micronutrient deficiencies and 4 out of 10 children have anemia, according to a large study conducted by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences published in the journal PLOS Global Public Health (1 Trusted Source
Prevalence and determinants of anemia due to micronutrient deficiencies among children aged 12-59 months in India-Evidence from Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, 2016-18

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Nutrient Deficiencies Among Children Raise Public Health Concern

The study, based on the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey (CNNS, 2018), aimed to estimate the prevalence of anemia, and anemia with micronutrient deficiencies (iron/ vitamin B12/ folic acid) and their determinants among children aged 12-59 months in India.
Out of the total of 11,237 children included in the study, 40.5 percent were anemic, 30.0 percent had anemia with micronutrient deficiencies and 60.9 percent had micronutrient deficiencies with or without anemia.

Lower educational status of the mother (mothers without formal schooling), consumption of less than 100 iron-folic acid tablets during pregnancy, iron deficiency, and zinc deficiency were all associated with anemia in children, said the researchers.

Among anemic, the children from scheduled tribe, and those following unsafe child feces disposal practices had a higher chance of having micronutrient deficiency. “One-third of children aged 12-59 months had anemia with micronutrient deficiency (iron/ folic acid/ vitamin B12). More than half of children had micronutrient deficiencies irrespective of anemia,” said Kapil Yadav, from the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, along with other researchers.

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“Micronutrient deficiencies, antenatal IFA intake, and safe hygiene practices need to be strengthened to leave no stone unturned in control of anemia among under-five children in India,” he added.

Globally, anemia is a major public health concern affecting 1.62 billion people. The Global Burden of Disease 2017 estimates that around 45 percent of the population in India are anemic. As per the National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS 5: 2019-21), India reported a high burden of anemia in under-five age groups with an estimated prevalence of 67.1 percent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies anemia as a severe public health problem when the prevalence of anemia is more than 40 percent in the country. “The high prevalence of anemia indicates that anemia is a serious public health problem among children aged 12 to 59 months in India,” the researchers said.


Iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation, which is the mainstay of anemia control strategy among under-five children, is also the major focus of the government’s Anemia Mukt Bharat (AMB).

“Consumption of IFA during pregnancy, following safe WASH practices, control of infections management of micronutrient deficiencies are crucial to control anemia and the interventions should be implemented from infancy onwards to act on time. Hence, implementing AMB intervention strategies in all the states of India and reaching the last mile needs to be ensured to combat this public health challenge,” the researchers said.



  1. Prevalence and determinants of anemia due to micronutrient deficiencies among children aged 12–59 months in India–Evidence from Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, 2016–18 – (


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