In developing countries like India, micronutrient deficiency especially of iron is most prevalent among children. Besides culminating into anemia, the consequences of iron deficiency are grave and affect the health and quality of life of the people and the nation as a whole. The objectives of this study were to assess the effect of using leaf concentrate (LC), a novel food prepared from the extract of Lucerne grass for supplementation as micronutrient fortifier in the hot meals of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Anganwadi Centres and to assess the impact on hemoglobin levels and morbidity profile of the children, aged 3 to 6 years attending ICDS Anganwadi Centres of Jaipur City. A total of sixty four children of either sex, aged 3 to 6 years were selected from the two Anganwadi Centres (AWC) of Jaipur City. Two AWC were selected randomly from the seven AWC running in a slum area of Jaipur, known as Jawahar Nagar slum. One Anganwadi Centre served as control group and another as experimental group At each center, 32 children were enrolled. The supplementary feed provided to the two AWC was the same, the only difference was that 3% LC was incorporated in the supplementary nutrition of the experimental centre. Supplementation with LC was continued for a period of 24 months. At baseline blood hemoglobin (Hb), weight, height and morbidity profile were assessed. The hemoglobin levels and the morbidity profile of the children were assessed in every six months, while the weights (kg) and heights (cm) were recorded every third month. The results showed a significant increase in the Hb levels of the experimental group while it decreased in the control group. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (p<0.01). Morbidity profile of the experimental group improved while it remained unchanged in the control group. The anthropometric measurements did not show a significant difference in the two groups.
Key words: Micronutrient, leaf concentrate, integrated child development services (ICDS), morbidity profile.
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