HYDERABAD: Providing micronutrients to young children will help them gain intelligence quotient (IQ) by three to six points over a period of eight months, reveals a research study by city nutrition scientists. “Adding micronutrients led to gains in children’s language […]
“Adding micronutrients led to gains in children’s language of about six points (equivalent to IQ points), in social-emotional development of about 4.5 points, and in inhibitory control of about three points,” Dr Sylvia Fernandez Rao, senior scientist, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), said.
Dr Sylvia was the lead investigator of Project Grow Smart, a study conducted by the NIN, Hyderabad, in collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA in Nalgonda district. The result of the study was published in the scientific publication, Journal of Nutrition.
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She said the study found that adding a multiple micronutrient powder to the first bites of the meal in Anganwadi centres resulted in a striking reduction in anaemia among three to six year old children. As part of the study, the selected Anganwadi centres were randomized into two groups – a group got micronutrients (which included iron, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin B2) or a placebo group (only vitamin B6).
The study revealed that after eight months, anaemia reduced from 46% to 10.1% among children, who received the added micronutrient bites, compared to a 47% to 35.5% reduction among children without the added micronutrients (placebo group), with corresponding improvements in iron status. “These are significant gains. These gains in children’s health and neurobehavioral development mean that the children are better prepared to learn and to take advantage of opportunities in primary school, and beyond, advancing human capital development, she added.
This can be a cost-effective way to improve the health and neurobehavioral development of more than 2.5 crore preschool age children (3-6 years) that Anganwadi centres serve throughout the country, she said.