Anaemic Conditions In Adolescent Girls And Its Implications

Anaemia has become a global health problem which has basically impacted the developing countries. The main reasons behind this are malnutrition, parasitic infections as well as infectious disease. Iron deficiency disease named anaemia is not only highly prevalent in developing countries but also has become a noticeable issue in developed countries. Do you know iron deficiency is not the only cause of the prevalence of anaemia but where anaemic is prevalent, iron deficiency is generally the most common cause? Anaemic has affected about 2 billion people all across the world. However, various studies have described the prevalence of anaemia across the world. This difference in estimation is because of the variation in methodological approaches and measures to track and assess the prevalence of anaemia across various communities.

Overview of the study

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 30% of the total population of the world was affected by Anaemia in the year 1985. On the other hand, 37% of the total female population of the world were anaemic in the year 1992. Not only this but also in the year 2008 WHO shared 24.8% of the world’s population is suffering from anaemia out of which 42% were pregnant women, 30% were non-pregnant women as well as 47% were adolescent girls who are school-going children.
As per the recent study done by WHO in the year 2011 around 496 million non-pregnant women as well as 32.4 pregnant women from aged 15-49 years were affected by anaemia. It has been said that half a billion women of reproductive age are generally affected by anaemia which has led to maternal death. Thus the need of the hour is to ensure the health care of the women of childbearing age specifically who are adolescent girls.


Anaemia is not specifically a disease but a health condition in which the total haemoglobin balance of the blood is less as compared to the normal because of the deficiency of one or more nutrients specifically iron which is must for the formation of haemoglobin. Basically, anaemia in any circumstances is featured by the decrease in the total number of red blood cell which results in the reduction in the concentration of haemoglobin of red blood cell mass on red blood cells mass. The lower haemoglobin level as well as the insufficiency of the total number of the red blood cells because of the lack of iron decreases the oxygen-carrying capacity into various tissues which work for the brain development as well as regulation of body temperature. Many reports have shown that anaemia has directly affected the physical and mental capacities of the individuals. The following table will show you the level of haemoglobin for anaemia based on the age group:  
Anaemia Level
Adolescent Girls
Pregnant Women
8.0 – 10.99 g/dl
10.0 – 11.99 g/dl
8.0 – 10.99 g/dl
5.0 – 7.99 g/dl
8.0 – 9.99 g/dl
5.0 – 7.99 g/dl
Below 5.0 g/dl
Below 8.0 g/dl
Below 5.0 g/dl
  Adolescent girls are most likely to suffer from anaemia and when they grow in age those health problems continue to persist and impairs the health of the women population which can increase the risk of maternal as well as child mortality. The World Health Organization has characterized the adolescent stage as life span the ages between 10 to 19 years and a certain period of life which is marked by specific developmental attributes like rapid growth and development and maturity in terms of social and psychological. Now the increase demand of iron at this age of growth, lack of nutrition, excessive menstrual losses will lead to anaemia. So public strategies are very much essential for preventing and controlling anaemia so that we can further control maternal mortality and low birth weight. So we highly recommend that adolescent girls should be detected as well as checked the influencing factor of anaemia. They should be guided on lifestyle changes through proper diet, regular exercise, self-care as well as weight gain. We will further discuss it in this article.

Stages of Anaemia

Normally anaemia has been divided into four different stages. Stage 1 is all about the reduced iron absorption and then moderate depletion of iron stores starts. In the 2nd stage, there is a negative iron balance because severe depletion od iron stores start. However, the iron stores are very low in these stages and hence dysfunction does not happen. In case intervention starts at these stages, the dysfunctioning can be avoided. In the 3rd stage, anaemia is not accompanied by dysfunction. Having said that, the last stage the severe negative iron balance is natured by inadequate body iron which cause dysfunction and anaemia.

Causes of Anaemia

Anaemia is the result of a variety of causes. Having said that, the most common cause is the deficiency of iron. The iron deficiency anaemia develops through different stages of iron deficiency which generally begins with the iron depletion. And if you don’t correct it will lead to iron deficiency anaemia in future. The main reasons behind the iron-deficiency anaemia are the low dietary intake of iron as well as the poor absorption of iron from foods due to phenolic or phytate present in the diet. There are some phases in life when there is a high requirement of iron especially during childhood as well as adolescent growth and pregnancy. The need for the iron increases in such stages of growth as well as development. Apart from this the other main causes are because of the malnutrition, reduced consumption of nutritious food, intestinal infestations, secondary disease, poor hygiene, poverty, consumption of alcohol or medication. The lack of iron occurs due to heavy blood loss because of menstruation or parasitic infections. All these things lead to anaemia.

Why are adolescent girls are at risk for anaemia?

As mentioned above adolescent girls are having a high risk for anaemia as compared to adolescent boys. This may be because of the several reasons which include the fact they lose each and every month due to menstrual cycles. Also, some girls eat less red meat as compared to adolescent boys.

On the other hand, some adolescent girls suffering from anaemia face headaches, fatigue or irritability (these are common issues though). So we highly recommend every teenage girl to go for screening for complete blood count around the age of 13 and then every 5 years or so.

Other risk factors

The prevalence of anaemia is a sign of poor health as well as poor nutrition of the nation. Do you know iron deficiency anaemia has been listed in the top ten risk factors which contribute to the global burden of diseases? It is one of the most common causes of the high risk of maternal as well as child mortality and it also increases the risk of foetal deaths, preterm, abnormalities as well as underweight babies.

Iron deficiency anaemia also affects physical development, motor skills, language skills as well as coordination among infant and young children and their development. Not only this but it also provides a negative impact on the immune systems which then increases the chances of infections leading to weakness, fatigue, lethargy, pain, depression, anxiety and decreased concentration. All the above-mentioned things affect the overall work capacity of an individual.

Prevention and control of Anaemia in adolescents

The primary prevention of anaemia is achieved with the help of well-balanced diet that is rich in iron and various other vitamins as well as minerals involved in the absorption of iron as well as in the production of haemoglobin or red blood cells.

A balanced diet rich in iron

Adolescence is the most important period for physical development as well as sexual maturation. So they need to consume a balanced diet. By balanced diet we mean to say that the diet which provides all nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins in equal amounts to maintain health and well being.

Eating a balanced diet means the consumption of various types of food items such as chapatti, pulses, rice, green leafy vegetables, fruits and milk every day.

Following are the functions of the various food components and the reasons:

  • Proteins are important for bodybuilding which help to repair and maintain the body tissues. Foods such as milk, egg, fish, meat and groundnuts are some of the examples of bodybuilding foods.
  • Fats provides energy to the body and also offer fat-soluble vitamins. Examples: oil, ghee, cheese, butter, mustard oil, meat and fish.
  • Vitamins and minerals are also needed but in small quantities as they play important roles in the growth and regulation of bodies such as fruits and vegetables.
  • The need for the calcium is higher during adolescence due to the rapid increase in the lean body mass and skeletal growth. Milk and other dairy products are rich in calcium.
  • Carbohydrates are the main source of energy. Rice, potato sugarcane, sugar and honey are the main examples of carbohydrates.

Iron deficiency in adolescent girls are common but if it is diagnosed early can be treated. We hope that this article is helpful to you. 

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