Hyderabad: Adding multiple micronutrient powder to the first bites of the meal leads to a striking reduction in anaemia among children aged between three and six in Anganwadi centres, a study by Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, the US, said.
The study, ‘Project Grow Smart’, was taken up in 11 Anganwadi centres in Nalgonda and was funded by Micronutrient Initiative, Canada, and Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition, USA, according to a statement from the NIN here on Monday. The study results were published in the recent issue of the noted Journal of Nutrition.
The selected Anganwadis were randomised into two groups wherein one group received micronutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B2, and the second group i.e. placebo group received vitamin B6.
The Anganwadi staff was trained to mix the micronutrients/placebo powder into a small portion of the cooked noon meal and serve it as the first few bites. The duration of the study was eight months, and the intervention was provided on every school day. After eight months, anaemia reduced from 46 per cent to 10.1 per cent among children who received the added micronutrient bites compared to a 47 per cent to 35.5 per cent reduction among children in the placebo group.
“This can be a cost-effective way to improve the health and neurobehavioral development of more than 2.5 crore preschool-age children that Anganwadi centres serve throughout India. They will be better prepared to learn and take advantage of opportunities in primary school,” said Dr Sylvia F Rao, Scientist D and lead investigator from ICMR-NIN, said.
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