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Around 48 percent of children under five years of age in India are underweight, ranging from 20 percent of the child population (under-five years) in Sikkim to a whopping 60 percent in Madhya Pradesh, according to NGO Child Rights and You (CRY).
Quoting data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) report on health and nutrition, the NGO said in a statement that one out of every five children under five years is wasted (low weight for height), while seven out of every 10 children aged 6-59 months are anaemic.
"The effects of malnutrition are irreversible as it prevents children from growing to their full potential," CRY CEO Puja Marwaha said.
"Its effects are inter-generational -- a malnourished child suffers with diminished cognitive development, poor school performance and physical development, thus impacting his or her productivity as an adult, and for women giving birth to low birth weight babies," she added.
More than a quarter of the babies born in Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tripura are low in birth weight, while Haryana leads the list with 32.7 percent of its child population weighing below par.
Standard weight of a normal child at the time of birth is 2.8 kg as prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Contrary to common perception, metropolitan cities like Mumbai, country capital New Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) too have not escaped the grasp of malnutrition, where more than four out of every 10 children are stunted, the statement said.
On an average, 74 children out of 1,000 do not live to see their fifth birthday in India.
States like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand have even higher under-five mortality rate of 90 per 1,000, with more than 50 percent of them dying from malnutrition.
The immunisation rate of children in the age of 12-23 months is quite low, with an average of 43.5 percent. Not a single state has achieved the target of total immunisation.
Poor antenatal care for mothers contributes to the number of wasted and stunted children, making it increasingly difficult for them to escape the clutches of malnourishment, according to the statement.
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