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Anemia in India: Impact on reproductive health and tips to prevent it

Anemia in India: Impact on reproductive health and tips to prevent it


Red blood cells, as well as RBCs, have disc-like the cells found throughout our bodies that carry oxygen to different tissues and organs. Someone who has a low RBC count is referred to as anemic. The body requires a sufficient amount of oxygen to carry out its operations, and anemia causes symptoms like exhaustion and dyspnea, which are brought on by insufficient oxygen reaching the body’s essential organs and tissues.

India’s anemia epidemic: effects on fertility and preventative measures (Shutterstock)

Alok Khettry, the chief operating officer India Company at they The serums as well as Vaccinations Limited (BSV), stated in a conversation with HT Lifestyle: “Haemoglobin, a protein rich in iron that connects oxygen within the lungs and enables cells to transport it throughout the body, is also present in RBCs. A medical professional will check the amount for the hemoglobin in the patient’s blood to determine whether or not he has anemia. The fifth National Family Health Survey (2019–21) reports that anemia prevalence in India is 25% for men (15–49 years old) and 57% for women (15–49 years old).

What results in anemia in humans?

Alok Khettry disclosed, “The bone marrow produces each RBC, with a lifespan of 100–120 days. Two million red blood cells are produced by the marrow in the bones every second on average, and the same number are extracted from the bloodstream. Anemia can result from any negative impact on this process, so it’s crucial to maintain a balance between both the generation and elimination of RBCs. This indicates that either too little RBC is produced or too much RBC is destroyed in an individual with anemia.

Reduced generation of red blood cells, which are as Most of the factors that cause a decline in the production of RBCs can be categorized as either inherited as well as obtained, the author went on. An imbalanced diet deficient in iron, vitamin B12, and folate—all of which are critical for the production of red blood cells—kidney disease, some cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma and autoimmune diseases, HIV, tuberculosis, a lack of thyroid and so forth medication or treatments, particularly radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer, and exposure to toxic substances, to mention a few, can all lead to a decrease in the production of red blood cells.”

Alok Khettry highlighted that certain inherited conditions such as congenital dyskeratosis, Schwachman-Diamond syndrome, and Fanconi anemia can lead to anemia in individuals. Moreover, anemia can also be triggered by various acquired factors such as endometriosis, excessive menstrual bleeding, childbirth, surgical procedures, blood loss due to accidents or injuries, and intestinal lesions including ulcers resulting from conditions like cancer or IBD. Another potential cause is hemolysis, wherein red blood cells degrade rapidly due to diverse factors such as antibody activity, specific infections, adverse reactions to medications, and exposure to toxins.

Anemia can also result from infections like malaria, liver illnesses like cirrhosis or hepatitis, and disorders like an enlarged spleen. Thralassemia, sickle cell disease, and a deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) are a few hereditary causes of elevated red blood cell damage.

What is the impact of anemia on reproductive health?

A woman may be diagnosed with one of several forms of anemia during pregnancy, which can have both immediate and long-term effects on her reproductive system. Alok Khettry states that the particular cause of anemia typically relies on the kind of

  • Anemia of pregnancy: Blood volume greatly increases during pregnancy. This indicates that the vitamins and iron required to produce this high RBC also rise. Anemia will result from the expectant mother consuming insufficient amounts of iron-rich food. Until the RBC count is extremely low, this is not regarded as abnormal.
  • Iron deficiency anemia: The fetus uses the mother’s red blood cells (RBCs) for growth and development during pregnancy, particularly in the final trimester. The body of a pregnant woman will use any extra blood vessel cells that were stored within her bone marrow prior to conception. Nonetheless, a pregnant woman may experience iron deficiency anemia if her iron reserves are insufficient. Pregnancy-related anemia most commonly manifests as this type. A healthy diet prior to and throughout pregnancy is crucial for the development of these stores.
  • Vitamin B-12 deficiency: Another crucial mineral for the synthesis of hemoglobin and red blood cells is vitamin B-12. Consuming foods derived from animals, such as milk, eggs, meat, and chicken, helps guard against vitamin B-12 deficiency. Vegetarian diets increase the risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency in women. These women might require vitamin B-12 injections during pregnancy in order to prevent problems.
  • Folate Deficiency: A B vitamin called folate, also known as folic acid, cooperates with iron to promote cell growth. Insufficient folate intake during pregnancy increases the risk of iron deficiency in expectant mothers. Furthermore, folic acid lowers the chance of brain and spinal cord birth defects in offspring, particularly when taken early in pregnancy.

How can one avoid becoming anemic?

In addition to raising awareness of the issues and consequences of anemia in the reproductive health of women, Alok Khettry recommended that screening tests be conducted in all of the nation’s hospitals and health centers. Preventing anemia and establishing a robust nutritional save in the body can also be achieved through good nutrition both before and during pregnancy. Women who follow a healthy, balanced diet are more likely to give birth to babies who are healthy and to recover from childbirth quickly.

Highlighting the significance of iron-rich foods, he emphasized that legumes like lima beans, green peas, and canned fermented wheat beans are excellent sources. He also pointed out that optimal meals for iron intake include various meats such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry like chicken, duck, and turkey especially the darker meat varieties—and a range of seafood like shellfish, anchovies, clams, mussels, and oysters (ensuring thorough cooking and avoiding fish high in mercury). Additionally, he recommended incorporating iron-fortified bread, pasta, and grains into the diet for their iron content.

Working Together to Find Better Solutions

Alok Khettry concluded, saying that cooperation is crucial in the endeavor to comprehend and address the effects of anemia in maternal health. Collaboration among medical professionals, politicians, policy makers, and ordinary people can foster a culture of transparent communication and preventive health measures. We can leave a legacy of resiliency, health, as well as optimism for future generations if we work together. Fundamentally, dismantling cultural barriers, highlighting nutrition, calling for systemic change, and acknowledging the prevalence of anemia in the country and its effects on reproductive health are necessary to comprehend the condition. We can create the foundation to build a happier and more knowledgeable tomorrow by addressing these issues.