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Open Access An analysis of the etiology of anemia and iron deficiency in young women of low socioeconomic status in Bangalore, India

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Background. Anemia and iron deficiency are significant public health problems in India, particularly among women and children. Recent figures suggest that nearly 50% of young Indian women are anemic.

Objectives. Few studies have comprehensively assessed etiologic factors contributing to anemia and iron deficiency in India. Hence, this study assessed the relative importance of various factors contributing to these problems in young women of low socioeconomic status in Bangalore, India.

Methods. A random sample of 100 nonpregnant, nonlactating women 18 to 35 years of age, selected from among 511 women living in a poor urban settlement, participated in this study. Data were obtained on demography, socioeconomic status, anthropometry, three-day dietary intake, blood hemoglobin, hemoglobinopathies, serum ferritin, serum C-reactive protein, and stool parasites.

Results. The prevalence rates of anemia and iron deficiency were 39% and 62%, respectively; 95% of the anemic women were iron deficient. The mean dietary iron intake was 9.5 mg per day, predominantly from the consumption of cereals, pulses, and vegetables (77%). The estimated bioavailability of nonheme iron in this diet was 2.8%. Dietary intakes were suboptimal for several nutrients. Blood hemoglobin was significantly correlated with dietary intake of fat, riboflavin, milk and yogurt, and coffee. Serum ferritin was significantly correlated with intake of niacin, vitamin B12, and selenium. Parasitic infestation was low.

Conclusions. An inadequate intake of dietary iron, its poor bioavailability, and concurrent inadequate intake of dietary micronutrients appear to be the primary factors responsible for the high prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency in this population.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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