A recent survey released by the Union Health Ministry found a worrying trend: There was an increase in anaemia across various age groups, especially in children and women. The highest spike was reported among children aged 6 to 59 months, from 58.6 per cent in 2015-2016 to 67.1 per cent. The study found that this number was higher in rural India compared to urban cities. Researchers also found that anaemia in females between the ages of 15 to 19 years was up from 54.1 per cent to 59.1 per cent.What is anaemia?According to the World Health Organisation, anaemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells or haemoglobin concentration within them is lower than normal. Haemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen so if you have lesser or higher red blood cells or not enough haemoglobin, the capacity of blood to carry oxygen will be affected. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath.The most common causes of anaemia include nutritional deficiencies like iron, folate, and vitamin B12 deficiencies and infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and parasitic infections.Among pregnant women aged between 15 to 40 years of age, 52.2 per cent were reportedly anaemic, compared to 50.4 per cent as found previously.Improvement is undernutrition in younger childrenAccording to the survey, there was a marginal improvement in two key pointers of undernutrition among children under five years, stunting and wasting. WHO has defined stunting as decreased growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Data showed that 35.5 per cent of children are stunted compared to 38.8 per cent as reported earlier.Wasting among children indicates recent and severe weight loss, although it can also persist for a long time. A child who is found to be severely wasted has an increased risk of death but treatment is possible. The study reported wasting in 19.3 per cent of children under five years as compared to 21 per cent in 2015-2016.