Sprinkles Global Health Initiative
Micronutrient Deficiencies
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect a third of the world’s people and account for an estimated 7.3% of the global burden of disease. Children under two and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to mineral deficiencies.
Iron
Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional problem in the world, impairing normal mental development in 40-60% of infants in the developing world. In addition, more than 500 million women are affected, leading to more than 60,000 deaths during childbirth a year. In the worst affected countries, iron deficiency can affect the national economy, accounting for losses of up to 2% of GDP.
Zinc
Zinc deficiency is common in populations that do not consume sufficient amounts of animal products (including meat) and is associated with weakened immune function and an increased rate of serious infectious disease. For women of reproductive age, zinc deficiency during pregnancy affects the mother's health, the progress of the pregnancy, and its outcome. Low birth weight infants may be especially vulnerable to zinc deficiency. For infants, the most common problem associated with zinc deficiency is diarrhea and pneumonia. Among school-aged children, common symptoms of zinc deficiency include hair loss, growth retardation, and recurring infections.
Iodine
Iodine must be obtained from the food we eat, but it has been depleted from the soil and water in many regions of the world. It is estimated that over 1.5 billion persons in the world live in regions where the soil is depleted of iodine and are at risk of iodine deficiency disease. Iodine deficiency in pregnancy is the most common cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage in the infant offspring.

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© Sprinkles Global Health Initiative, 2008