Serum iron status in Orang Asli children living in endemic areas of soil-transmitted helminths.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007; 16(4):724-30.AP
We conducted a cross sectional study to examine the association of intestinal parasitic infections and protein energy malnutrition (PEM) with iron-status indicators and anaemia among Orang Asli children in Selangor, Malaysia. A total of 281 children aged 2 - 15 years were studied. The data were collected using structured questionnaires, anthropometric measurements and laboratory analysis for blood and faecal samples. All children were infected either by A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura or hookworm and almost 19%, 26% and 3% of the children had severe infection of ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection respectively. The prevalence of giardiasis among them was 24.9%. Overall, 41.5% of the children were anaemic (haemoglobin < 11.0 g/dL). Of these 61.0% of the children had iron deficiency and 36.5% had iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), which accounted for 88.0% of anaemia in this population. Severe trichuriasis had the most significant correlation with anaemia and iron deficiency in this population. It contributed to low concentrations of haemoglobin, serum iron and serum ferritin and high total iron binding capacity (TIBC). Significant underweight and stunting were associated with low concentrations of haemoglobin and serum iron while significant wasting was significantly associated with low concentration of serum ferritin. Logistic regression analysis confirmed that severe trichuriasis was a strong predictor of IDA. It also confirmed that children who were significantly underweight and whose mother was working were independent predictors of IDA in this population.