Iron deficiency anaemia is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in the world; affecting more than 3.5 million people worldwide. It hits home as every year more and more people become or continue to be anaemic.
Data collected by the Ministry of Health in recent years show that 50% of 1 year old children in Grenada and 25% of antenatal or pregnant women screened at local clinics are Anaemic.
Internationally, World Health Organisation studies show that in low-and middle-income countries, roughly 5 million children die of under-nutrition and Anaemia-related causes every year.
It is reported that some Caribbean countries have reached 60% in pregnant women diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia. In most industrialised countries, the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women is around 20%. The WHO says nearly half of the pregnant women in the world are anaemic.
There is hope however; this disorder is preventable through proper diet and including more iron rich foods in your meals would keep iron deficiency anaemia at bay. Good sources of iron include: red meats like beef or liver, lean meats, fish like salmon, tuna and egg yolks.
Try having some dark-green leafy vegetables like Calaloo, spinach, Kale, beet leaves, dried peas and beans like lentils or red beans.
Molasses, dried fruits like raisins and enriched whole-grain bread, iron fortified cereals and brown rice will also aid in boosting your iron level. It helps to serve these alongside foods or drinks rich in vitamin C (tomatoes, broccoli, orange juice, grapefruit), which improves the body’s absorption of iron.
Some forms of Anaemia are hereditary and infants may be affected from the time of birth. Anaemia can have a profound effect on the mother and in some cases, a permanent effect on the unborn baby.
Women often enter pregnancy with adequate iron but may develop iron deficiency in the later stages of pregnancy. Infants born to anaemic mothers are more likely to become anaemic as they are born with inadequate iron stores iron levels.
Young children of school age may have impaired performance on tests of language skills, coordination and intelligence. Children and adolescents who are anaemic can become inattentive and fatigue easily and unable to learn well. Some children may also suffer from reduced alertness, having trouble staying awake or alert for extended periods.
Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in your body. This is usually effective, and the condition rarely causes long-term problems.
You are also encouraged to make dietary changes to include more iron-rich foods.
(The above was submitted by the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)