21 children hospitalised after taking tablets at govt schools

21 children hospitalised after taking tablets at govt schools

The weekly iron folic acid supplementation programme, started in all government schools in Delhi on Wednesday, took an ugly turn on the day of its launch. Twenty-one children were hospitalised and 200 showed symptoms of side-effects, just hours after they were administered the pills.

The state health ministry said none of the children were reported to be serious. But doctors at some of the hospitals said the children were “seriously ill” as they were vomiting and complained of pain in the abdomen.

Stomachs of the children, aged between 11 and 17, had to be washed and injections administered before they showed signs of recovery.

The problem was not restricted to a particular school or area. Students were admitted to six different hospitals in different areas of the city.

Sunderlal Hospital in Ashok Nagar reported the maximum number of cases at eight, followed by seven at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, two each at Jag Pravesh Chander and Hindu Rao Hospitals and Hedgewar Arogya Sansthan and B R Ambedkar Hospital admitting one patient each.

Dr Subhash Agarwal, medical superintendent of Sunderlal Hospital, said parents of the children panicked when their condition deteriorated.

“They called the police who brought the victims to the hospital. They were discharged on Thursday after treatment and after their parents expressed their desire to take them away,” he said, adding that the stomach water samples have been sent for tests.
The side-effects of the pills began a few hours after they were administered the medicine. But the children were brought to the hospitals only in the night.

“A Muslim boy, who had fasted on the occasion of Roza, was admitted around midnight. He had taken the tablet only after he broke his fast in the evening. So it can be assumed that the effect of the pills took its time,” said Dr Atish Sinha, deputy medical superintendent of the hospital.

All children admitted to Sunderlal Hospital were students of Sarvodaya Kendriya Vidyalaya in Wazirpur and residents of J J Colony in the same area.

Dr A K Walia, Delhi Health Minister, said these symptoms are experienced worldwide in the initial doses of iron and folic acid tablets in about one per cent of the total beneficiaries.

“However, in case of Delhi, only 0.01 per cent of the 18 lakh students have reported these common mild symptoms which is within the acceptable levels,” he said.
He added that the expiry date of the tablets is May 2015 and have been pre-tested from a government-approved laboratory.

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