Objective: Inadequate nutritional status can lead to several preventable developmental disorders. Populations living at high altitude are particularly at risk. Our aim is to contribute to the general knowledge of nutritional status of children in Ladakh.
Method: Review of the literature concerning nutritional status in micronutrients, especially among children living in the Himalayan regions.
Results: Iodine deficiency is the most common cause in the world of preventable learning disability*. Although the extension of severe endemic areas has been reduced, it is estimated that around 200 million people in the world are still living in remote places at risk of severe iodine deficiency. A recent survey in the ‘sub-Himalayan goiter belt’ indicates that iodine deficiency continues to threaten the health of this population.
Studies in the Kashmir Valley found that, despite abundant sunlight, vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a well-known cause of child morbidity and mortality and of visual defect. In India, 52,000 children go blind every year on account of VAD, and vitamin A supplementation programs are ongoing. VAD and iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) often coexist in vulnerable groups. In Africa it was shown that in IDD- and VAD-affected children receiving iodized salt and concurrent vitamin A supplementation improves iodine efficacy. In the Tibet Autonomous Region the nutritional status of children is deficient in proteins, iodine, selenium, calcium, and vitamins A and D. Interaction between iron and VAD is well known as well.
Conclusions: To our knowledge, data concerning nutritional status of children living in Ladakh are lacking. Micronutrient deficiency is a public health concern that has lead to supplementation programmes. As interactions between several micronutrients have been evidenced, more integrated, multifaceted programmes are needed. Despite significant progress in many regions, continuing efforts are needed to reach underserved populations.
Wiley Online Library , 2008. 31-32 p.