Anaemia and neural tube defects are widespread, preventable health problems that primarily lead to the suffering of women and children. Poverty predisposes people to anaemia and neural tube defects for a variety of reasons, including inadequate nutrition, weak health systems, infectious/parasitic disease, and limited access to fortified foods.
Iron deficiency anaemia
Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) occurs when the body does not have enough iron to produce haemoglobin and cannot carry sufficient levels of oxygen around the body. IDA is responsible for roughly half of the 2.36 billion cases of anemia globally, and accounts for four percent of all years lived with disability. Anaemia can cause chronic tiredness/fatigue, impaired cognitive development in children, low moods and low productivity in adults, and even increase risk for depressive symptoms and heart disease.
Neural tube defects
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are developmental abnormalities affecting the spine, spinal cord, and brain, largely due to folic acid deficiency within the first month of pregnancy. NTDs account for over five million DALYs and over 40 thousand deaths annually.
Anaemia in India
Across India, 38.3% of the population suffers from iron deficiency anaemia (compared to 2.3 percent in the US). Anaemia affects 55.3% of women and 69.5% of children in India considering all causes (including anaemia resulting from iron deficiency, intestinal worms, etc.).
NTDs in India
Nearly 100,000 children are thought to be born with neural tube defects each year in India.