Anemic and malnourished children vulnerable to Covid-19

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Anemic child. (Source: klikdokter)

UNAIR NEWS – Anemia is one of the biggest contributors to various diseases globally. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that 1.62 billion people or 24.8 percent of the global population suffer from anemia. Surprisingly, almost half were known to be children, followed by pregnant women.

According to Dr. M. Atoillah Isfandiari, dr., M.Kes, anemic and malnourished children have greater risk to be infected with Covid-19. He conveyed this in UNAIR Faculty of Public Health (FKM) webinar entitled “Nutrition Investment to Prevent Anemia in COVID-19 Era” on Sunday, September 13, 2020.

Lack of iron in children can adversely affect children’s development. Anemia in children is one of the characteristics that the children are malnourished. “Children who are stunted and have a low BMI have a high risk of developing anemia,” said the Epidemiology lecturer.

Anemia is very common in pregnant women and children. According to World Health Organization, anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells is not sufficient to meet the body’s physiological needs. It can affect the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen.

“Children with stunting born to mothers with anemia have a higher risk than stunted child born by mothers without anemia,” said Ato.

In general, anemia is caused by a significant reduction in red blood cells. It can be caused by bleeding or the destruction of red blood cells. In addition, the short lifespan of red blood cells due to the formation of hemoglobin also triggers anemia.

In children, anemia causes decreased immunity so they are prone to infection. “Red blood cells have a role in the performance of immune system in fighting bacteria and viruses,” he said.

Anemia also affects child development. He continued that anemia triggers weight loss and decreased appetite. Furthermore, anemia also reduces learning ability and causes cognitive development problems in children. (*)

Author: Erika Eight Novanty Editor : Binti Q. Masruroh

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