Epidemiology of anemia among 4- to 17-month-old children living in south central Nepal

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



European Journal of Clinical Nutrition








Anemia; Hemoglobin; Infancy; Iron deficiency; Malnutrition; Nepal


Objective: To describe the distribution of hemoglobin and prevalence of anemia in Nepali children living in the Terai region by potential risk factors for deficiency. Design: This was a cross-sectional, community-based study of baseline characteristics of children enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial between January and March 2002. Participants were weighed and measured and had their blood drawn. Their mothers contributed demographic, morbidity, and feeding data. Subjects: There were 569 4- to 17-month-old children. Statistical models were based on 490 children. Results: Anemia was prevalent: 58% of the children had a hemoglobin <105 g/l. Iron-deficiency anemia (anemia with erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP) >90μmol/mol heme) was present in 43%; of the children. Severe anemia was rare: less than 2% of the children had a hemoglobin <70 g/l. The mean (s.d.) hemoglobin concentration was 101 (12.5) g/l. Stunting and wasting were prevalent: 30.8% were stunted (length-for-age Z-score <2) and 18.1% were wasted (weight-for-length Z-score < -2). Bivariate analyses revealed that age, caste, socioeconomic status, dietary diversity, stunting, and underweight were associated with hemoglobin concentration and/or anemia. In multivariate models with and without EP, age and caste were found to be strong predictors of both hemoglobin concentration and anemia. Conclusions: Anemia and iron deficiency increased strongly with age and low-caste status among the study children. The data reveal the importance of targeting interventions to children in the first year of life before they become anemic and iron deficient. © 2006 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.