As many as 54% women between 15-49 years in rural India are anaemic and 27% are underweight, latest health data show.

The good news: There has been a 13.9 percentage point reduction in underweight women and a 3.2 percentage point reduction in anaemia since a decade ago, as recorded in National Family Health Survey 3 (NFHS-3) 2005-2006.

Anaemia caused 20% of maternal deaths in India, and was the associate cause in 50% of maternal deaths, according to the 2014 study published in Nutrition, an international journal.

Anaemia during pregnancy also increases the chances of foetal deaths, abnormalities, pre-term and underweight babies, IndiaSpend reported on October 27, 2016.

Jharkhand (35%), followed by Gujarat (34%) and Bihar (32%) have the highest prevalence of underweight women in rural areas.

Jharkhand (67%) also has the highest prevalence of anaemia, followed by West Bengal (64%) and Haryana (64%).

Source: NFHS-3, NFHS-4

(Yadavar is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

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