Childhood iron deficiency anemia, maternal nutritional knowledge, and maternal feeding practices in a high-risk population.Prev Med. 1999 Sep; 29(3):152-6.PM
Despite the proven success of national efforts such as the Special Supplementary Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to curb childhood iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in the United States, aggregate programmatic data may not accurately represent the experience of particularly high risk groups, such as the children of adolescent mothers of low socio-economic status.
This study evaluated the prevalence and severity of childhood anemia and associated risk factors, at one urban teen health center serving primarily low-income adolescent mothers and their children. A total of 175 pediatric WIC charts were reviewed to abstract hemoglobin status and other data. Additionally, 81 mothers were interviewed with regard to their nutritional knowledge and feeding practices; these findings were compared with the measured hemoglobin (Hgb) of their children.
A total of 34.9% of children in the study population were found to be anemic (Hgb </= 11. 2). Low childhood Hgb status was significantly correlated with racial identification, child age, maternal perception of feeding difficulty, and the presence of concurrent pediatric medical illness. Report of extensive nutritional discussion with a physician was correlated with normal Hgb levels. No differences in nutritional knowledge or feeding practices were detected between mothers of children with low iron status.
We conclude that the risk of iron deficiency, even among children receiving WIC services, may be underestimated in certain "nutritionally very high risk" populations. Further study of interventions for IDA in children of young, low-income mothers is recommended.