Nutritional risk factors for iron-deficiency anaemia in children 12-24 months old in the area of Thessalia in Greece.Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2005 Feb; 56(1):1-12.IJ
Iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a common problem all over the world, which mainly attacks pregnant women, infants and children. The main objectives were to assess the prevalence of IDA in children 12-24 months old in the area of Thessalia located in the central part of Greece and to identify, by means of a simple questionnaire, its nutritional risk factors. The research was applied as a cross-sectional and case-control study. In the first part of the study, the haemoglobin (Hb) levels were estimated by a mobile photometer analyser in 938 children (approximately one-third of the total children population). In the second part, children with Hb?<?11 g/dl were compared with their random selected healthy controls in haematological, anthropometric and nutritional parameters. The estimated laboratory values were Hb, haematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular Hb, mean corpuscular Hb concentration, zinc protoporphyrin, serum iron, serum ferritin, transferring saturation, total iron binding capacity and Hb electrophoresis. Finally, 75 children (34 boys, 41 girls; mean age 17.51+/-3.5 months), who were found to have IDA, constituted the case group while 75 healthy children constituted the control group. The studied nutritional variables through the application of a standardized food frequency questionnaire were: duration of breast feeding, milk that the child drinks during the research, age of solid food introduction, child's health status according to the mother's point of view, child's appetite and frequency of bread, cereals, meat, fish, egg, legumes, chocolate, marmalade, vegetables, fruit and tea intake. The prevalence of IDA in the region was 7.99%. The carriers of b-thalassaemia (2.13%) were excluded from the study. Significant statistical difference has been observed between the two groups (P?<?0.001) in all haematological and anthropometric parameters except head circumference (P?=?0.85). Concerning the nutritional indices the two groups were statistically different (P?<?0.001) in the following: the cases were breastfed less, were drinking fresh cow's milk and tea, were eating meat, vegetables and fruit less often, had a bad appetite and were more likely to get sick. In conclusion, the prevalence of IDA in this area of Greece is approximately similar to other areas in the developed world. The application of simple food frequency questionnaires for the detection of the nutritional IDA risk factors could prognose and prevent anaemia.