Prevalence of iron deficiency and anemia among young children with acute diarrhea in Bhaktapur, Nepal
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Iron deficiency anemia is still common in children under five years of age and may impair their growth and cognitive development. Diarrhea is the second most common reason for seeking medical care for young children in Nepal. However, neither screening programs nor effective preventive measures for anemia and iron deficiencies are in place among children with diarrhea in many developing countries. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency and explore their associations with clinical, socioeconomic, and anthropometric parameters in Nepalese children. This was a cross-sectional study based on 1232 children, six to 35 months old, with acute diarrhea participating in a zinc supplementation trial. The mean (SD) hemoglobin was 11.2 g/dL (1.2). Anemia was found in 493 children (40%); this estimate increased to 641 (52%) when we adjusted for the altitude of the study area (hemoglobin <11.3 g/dL). One in every three children had depleted iron stores and 198 (16%) of the children had both depleted iron stores and anemia, indicating iron deficiency anemia. The prevalence of anemia among children presenting with acute diarrhea was high but the degree of severity was mainly mild or moderate. Iron deficiency explained less than half of the total anemia, indicating other nutritional deficiencies inducing anemia might be common in this population.