Peru’s Growing Concern: Preventing Anemia in Children

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News Team

Anemia is a major public health concern in Peru, especially among children aged 6 to 36 months. According to the Demographic and Family Health Survey (Endes) for 2022, the incidence of anemia in this age group has increased from 38.8% to 42.4%. The department of Puno has the highest rate of anemia at 67.2%, but other regions such as Huánuco, Loreto, Huancavelica, Pasco, Tacna, and San Martín are also experiencing significant increases in reported cases.

Anemia is characterized by a reduction in the amount of hemoglobin or red blood cells in the blood, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, tachycardia, and paleness. It can be caused by factors such as low production or excessive loss of blood components, often due to bleeding. Early identification of anemia is crucial for successful treatment, as there are different types of anemia, with deficiency ones – due to iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid deficiency – being the most common.

Anemia disproportionately affects certain groups, especially children and women of childbearing age, due to rapid growth and increased risk from menstruation and pregnancy. Treatment depends on the type and cause of anemia and may involve nutritional supplements, medications, blood transfusions, or specific therapies for underlying diseases. Prevention through balanced diets and regular medical check-ups is essential to avoid complications associated with anemia, such as heart failure.

The increase in anemia cases among children aged 6 to 36 months can be attributed to various economic factors that affect both the availability and access to foods with high nutritional value. Poverty plays a significant role in limiting access to foods enriched in iron and other essential nutrients, making it difficult to fight malnutrition and anemia. Economic inequalities in certain areas can intensify differences in the incidence of anemia, with the most disadvantaged communities facing greater obstacles to accessing nutritious food, quality health services, and effective intervention measures.

Restricted access to adequate health services is another serious limitation, especially in areas with limited resources. The lack of healthcare infrastructure, qualified medical personnel, and medication supply is a predominant challenge in rural regions and low-income communities.

According to the Mayo Clinic, adopting a balanced diet can help prevent anemia caused by iron and vitamin deficiencies. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is essential, as iron is found in beef, other meats, beans, lentils, fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruits. Folate and folic acid are found in fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, peas, kidney beans, peanuts, and fortified grain products, while vitamin B12 is found in meat, dairy products, and fortified foods. Vitamin C, crucial for the body’s absorption of iron, is found in citrus fruits and juices, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, melons, and strawberries.

In conclusion, anemia is a growing problem in Peru, especially among children aged 6 to 36 months. It is essential to address economic factors that limit access to nutritious food and healthcare services in order to combat this condition effectively. Early identification and treatment, as well as prevention through balanced diets, are crucial in the fight against anemia.

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