Issues in prevention of iron deficiency anemia in India

Nutrition. 2014 Jul-Aug;30(7-8):764-70. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2013.11.022. Epub 2013 Dec 10.


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) continues to be major public health problem in India. It is estimated that about 20% of maternal deaths are directly related to anemia and another 50% of maternal deaths are associated with it. The question, therefore, is why, despite being the first country to launch the National Nutritional Anemia Prophylaxis Programme in 1970, the problem of IDA remains so widespread. As is to be expected, the economic implications of IDA are also massive. The issues of control of IDA in India are multiple. Inadequate dietary intake of iron, defective iron absorption, increased iron requirements due to repeated pregnancies and lactation, poor iron reserves at birth, timing of umbilical cord clamping, timing and type of complementary food introduction, frequency of infections in children, and excessive physiological blood loss during adolescence and pregnancy are some of the causes responsible for the high prevalence of anemia in India. In addition, there are other multiple programmatic and organizational issues. This review, therefore, is an attempt to examine the current burden of anemia in India, its epidemiology, and the various issues regarding its prevention and control, as well as to offer some innovative approaches to deal with this major health problem.

Keywords: India; Iron deficiency anemia; Maternal deaths.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / etiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Maternal Death / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Health*