Social Costs of Iron Deficiency Anemia in 6-59 month old children in India

May 12, 2017

Inadequate nutrition has a severe impact on health in India. According to the WHO, iron
deficiency is the single most important nutritional risk factor in India, accounting for more
than 3% of all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. We estimate the social costs of
iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in 6–59-month-old children in India in terms of intangible costs
and production losses.

Materials and Methods
We build a health economic model estimating the life-time costs of a birth cohort suffering
from IDA between the ages of 6 and 59 months. The model is stratified by 2 age groups (6–
23 and 24–59-months), 2 geographical areas (urban and rural), 10 socio-economic strata
and 3 degrees of severity of IDA (mild, moderate and severe). Prevalence of anemia is calculated
with the last available National Family Health Survey. Information on the health consequences
of IDA is extracted from the literature.
IDA prevalence is 49.5% in 6–23-month-old and 39.9% in 24–58-month-old children. Children
living in poor households in rural areas are particularly affected but prevalence is high
even in wealthy urban households. The estimated yearly costs of IDA in 6–59-month-old
children amount to intangible costs of 8.3 m DALYs and production losses of 24,001 m
USD, equal to 1.3% of gross domestic product. Previous calculations have considerably
underestimated the intangible costs of IDA as the improved WHO methodology leads to a
threefold increase of DALYs due to IDA.
Despite years of iron supplementation programs and substantial economic growth, IDA
remains a crucial public health issue in India and an obstacle to the economic advancement
of the poor. Young children are especially vulnerable due to the irreversible effects of IDA on cognitive
development. Our research may contribute to the design of new effective interventions
aiming to reduce IDA in early childhood


Refrence: Plessow R, Arora NK, Brunner B, Tzogiou C, Eichler K, Brügger U, et al. (2015) Social Costs of Iron
Deficiency Anemia in 6–59-Month-Old Children in India. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0136581. doi:10.1371/

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