Prevalence and factors associated with anemia in children enrolled in daycare centers

Researchers at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), Vitória da Conquista, Bahia, Brazil, published a study in Revista Paulista de Pediatria, issue of September 2017, determining prevalence and factors associated with anemia among children aging less than five years and enrolled in public daycare centers across the State of Bahia.

The authors point out that iron deficiency anemia is considered a public health problem affecting the population in both developed and developing countries. In Brazil, the National Demographic and Health Survey estimated prevalence of 20.9% of anemia among children under 5 years of age. Among risk groups, preschool children are highly vulnerable to iron deficiency anemia, which is quite concerning given the damages this condition may cause, i.e. immune system depression with increased susceptibility to infections, cognitive, growth and psychomotor development impairment, leading to difficulties in learning and physical capacity reduction. Such changes may persist even after drug therapy. Studies on the nutritional assessment of iron status in childhood and its potential determinants can help define strategies of public policies aimed at the promotion of childhood health. Therefore, the study carried out at UFBA intended to determine prevalence and factors associated with anemia in preschool children assisted at public daycare centers in a city in southwest Bahia.

The study was conducted with 667 children enrolled full time in public daycare centers associated with the City of Vitória da Conquista, Bahia. Blood was collected using digital puncture by a portable hemoglobinometer to determine anemia, considering hemoglobin ??<11 g/dL the cutoff point for the diagnosis. Parents or guardians of participating children filled a questionnaire as a means of data collection for socioeconomic, motherly, and children’s health and nutrition information, being their nutritional status evaluated by anthropometric measures of weight and height.

The study showed a prevalence of 10.2% of anemia, being more common among children whose homes did not have sanitary installation, those who did not receive exclusive breastfeeding, those who were younger than 36 months; and those presenting small height for their age. “It shows a lower prevalence of anemia in the population studied when compared to other studies. This may be attributable to the quality of food served in daycare centers”, says physician Daniela da Silva Rocha, one of the researchers.

According to Daniela, the study merits being disclosed to society, since there are no studies on this subject related to children enrolled in daycare centers of Vitória da Conquista, Bahia. “Publishing these data will bring knowledge to both the academic community and local authorities. Knowing the factors associated with anemia is extremely important to make public policies more effective in reducing anemia in this population”, said the professor.
Contact person: Daniela da Silva Rocha
Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA), Vitória da Conquista (BA)

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