During 1992 and 1993, 309 children aged 1-22 months (mo) and their mothers visiting an immunization facility in Al Ain city, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates, were studied to (1) define blood haemoglobin (Hb) levels; (2) estimate the prevalence of anaemia; (3) examine the role of iron deficiency in causing anaemia; (4) identify the correlates of anaemia prevalence; and (5) assess the acceptability to parents of an anaemia screening test for their young children. The levels of Hb in all subjects and the levels of serum ferritin in anaemic (Hb <11 g/dl) children aged ≥6 mo and in non-pregnant women with Hb <11 g/dl were determined by a HemoCue Photometer and an enzyme immunoassay, respectively. Each woman was interviewed to obtain pertinent data. In children, anaemia was detected in 3% of those aged 1-2 mo (Hb <9 g/dl), in 8% of those aged 3-5 mo (Hb <10 g/dl), and in 25-39% of those aged ≥6 mo (Hb <11 g/dl). Of 19 children tested, ten (53%) were iron-depleted (serum ferritin <12 μg/l). After multivariate adjustment, the only significant positive correlate of anaemia in children was older age (1-5 mo vs 6-22 mo; odds ratio [OR]: 9.51; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.92-23.08). Anaemia was detected in 14% of pregnant women (Hb <11 g/dl) and 16% of non-pregnant women (Hb <12 g/dl). After multivariate adjustment, significant or suggestive positive correlates of anaemia in women were greater number of pregnancies (1-3 vs ≥7; OR: 3.49; 95% CI: 1.33-9.15) and longer usual duration of menstrual periods (≤4 days vs ≥8 days; OR: 3.54; 95% CI: 0.95-13.12). Of five non-pregnant women tested, three (60%) were iron-depleted. These results indicate that iron deficiency is probably the predominant cause of anaemia in young children and women of reproductive age in Al Ain. Only about 10% of all eligible parents we approached refused to have their young children screened for anaemia by a test that required a capillary blood sample. The widespread prevalence of anaemia and, probably, iron depletion in young children and women of reproductive age in Al Ain underscores a need for the reinforcement of existing programmes and the introduction of new programmes aimed at the prevention, early detection and correction of anaemia in these two groups.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health