Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a global public health problem among school age children, which retards psychomotor development and impairs cognitive performance. There is limited data on prevalence and risk factors for IDA.
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, severity, and predictors of nutritional IDA in school age children in Southwest Ethiopia.
A community based cross-sectional study was conducted in Jimma Town, Southwest Ethiopia from April to July 2013. A total of 616 school children aged 6 to 12 years were included in the study using multistage sampling technique. A structured questionnaire was used to collect sociodemographic data. Five milliliter venous blood was collected from each child for hematological examinations. Anemia was defined as a hemoglobin level lower than 11.5 g/dl and 12 g/dl for age group of 5-11 years and 12-15 years, respectively. Iron deficiency anemia was defined when serum iron and ferritin levels are below 10 µmol/l and 15 µg/dl, respectively. Moreover, fresh stool specimen was collected for diagnosis of intestinal parasitic infection. Stained thick and thin blood films were examined for detection of Plasmodium infection and study of red blood cell morphology. Dietary patterns of the study subjects were assessed using food frequency questionnaire and anthropometric measurements were done. Data were analyzed using SPSS V-20.0 for windows.
Overall, prevalence of anemia was 43.7%, and that of IDA was 37.4%. Not-consuming protein source foods [AOR = 2.30, 95%CI(1.04,5.14)], not-consuming dairy products [AOR = 1.83, 95%CI(1.14,5.14)], not-consuming discretionary calories [AOR = 2.77, 95%CI(1.42,5.40)], low family income [AOR = 6.14, 95%CI(2.90,12.9)] and intestinal parasitic infections [AOR = 1.45, 95%CI(1.23, 5. 27)] were predictors of IDA.
Iron deficiency anemia is a moderate public health problem in the study site. Dietary deficiencies and intestinal parasitic infections were predictors of IDA. Therefore, emphasis should be given to the strategies for the prevention of risk factors for IDA.