IDA becoming common among young Malaysian children
According to a WHO report, one-in-four Malaysian children is anaemic. The prevalence of household food insecurity and malnutrition is said to be significant, with low-income households among those afflicted. [https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/indicators/indicator-details/GHO/prevalence-of-anaemia-in-children-under-5-years-(-) Accessed 24 November 2021] Economic uncertainty, loss of household income, and unemployment have compounded this, as families struggle to supply their children with the proper nutrients, resulting in micronutrient deficiencies. [https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/media/1741/file/Nutrition%20COVID19%20policy%20brief.pdf Accessed 24 November 2021]
Malnutrition is a major cause to stunting and wasting in children’s growth, according to Professor Dr Muhammad Yazid Jalaludin, senior consultant paediatric endocrinologist. This is especially true in lower socioeconomic-status households. Among the deficiencies, iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) is the most prevalent and serious nutritional deficiency. It is becoming more common among Malaysian children under the age of 5 years in the last 10 years. Anaemia affects around 644,000 Malaysian children, with the prevalence of IDA being higher among children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
“IDA is prevalent in these communities and can have severe consequences for physical, cognitive development and even body immune system. Therefore, consuming a balanced diet which meets the nutritional requirement of a growing child is imperative to help protect children from the inside. It is important we raise awareness and educate Malaysian parents on IDA and how it affects children’s immunity, mental and physical development,” he said.
Danone steps in to help
As part of their ongoing One Health programme, Danone hopes to drive the discourse around malnutrition and IDA through local partnerships and collaborations. In this instance, Danone announced a collaboration with Muhammad Yazid and a team of doctors to conduct the first large-scale multi-site clinical study known as the Iron Strong Study in Malaysia, using a non-invasive screening device. The cross-sectional study will help to improve understanding on the prevalence of anaemia risk among young children, and provide data that will help define and support future actions and decisions in preventing IDA.
“Danone is committed to addressing the public health challenge of malnutrition to ensure that Malaysian children are well protected from malnutrition and IDA. Our endeavour is to help grow healthier generations in Malaysia by tackling iron-deficiency anaemia in children. We believe that providing health through food is not only a necessity but also our responsibility and these intentions are expressed through our commitment towards our One Health agenda in Malaysia,” said Vera Saw, country manager of Danone Specialized Nutrition for Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.
Over the past year, Danone has been involved in several initiatives including:
•Partnership with Malaysia’s The Lost Food Project which impacted 14,000 B40 Malaysian families. [www.thelostfoodproject.org/ Accessed 25 November 2021]
•Dugro ‘Lindungi Generasi Masa Depan’ virtual event to raise awareness and educate Malaysian parents on IDA.