Anaemia and undernutrition among pre school children in Kerala
The status of iron deficiency anaemia and undernutrition among preschool children aged 0-35 months in Kerala, India, during 2002-04, was investigated. Its association with socioeconomic and demographic variables was also studied. The mean age, weight and haemoglobin level of the children were 16.8+or-10.4 months, 8.3+or-2.3 kg and 10.11+or-3.7 g/dl, respectively. The prevalence of low birth weight (<2500 g) was around 17.6. Among the children, 73.8 and 8.8% had mild and moderate anaemia, respectively. Kozhikode, Palakkad and Ernakulam districts had the highest percentages of anaemic preschool children (100%), followed by Pathanamthitta (96%) and lowest in Idukki (72%). The prevalence of mild anaemia was inversely associated with household standard of living. On the other hand, 6.3 and 22.6% of the preschool children were severely underweight and underweight, respectively. The highest percentage of underweight children was found in Kozhikkode (34%), followed by Palakkad (24%) and lowest in Pathanamthitta (13%). The proportion of severely underweight children increased with birth order. The infant and neonatal mortality rates for the year 2005-06 were 15.3 and 11.5, respectively. It is suggested that a new programme strategy to improve the nutritional status of preschool children is needed.