A newly published study by JCU’s Ms. Dympna Leonard has found that anaemia in early childhood doubles the risk of developmental vulnerability of school-age children (see full report here). Additionally, children of mothers who had anaemia before and during pregnancy were significantly more likely to be developmentally vulnerable at school-age.
Traditional foods like shellfish, wallaby and other bush meats are nutrient dense and naturally high in iron and play a key role in preventing iron deficiency. A diet with plenty of variety that is high in fruit and vegetables helps to protect against and fight infections.
Apunipima Cape York Health Council continues to work closely with communities in Cape York to address anaemia in mothers and children. Videos have been developed with some community members who shared knowledge promoting the nutritional benefits of traditional foods. (see videos on Apunipima’s YouTube here)
This study highlights the key role nutrition has to play in preparing children for school. Addressing anaemia in pregnancy and early childhood not only improves health outcomes but could contribute to Closing the Gap by increasing the percentage of children starting school developmentally on track.