Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Prevalence of Anaemia and Associated Factors among Children below Five Years of Age in Cape Verde, West Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Prevalence of Anaemia and Associated Factors among Children below Five Years of Age in Cape Verde, West Africa

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most prevalent nutritional disorder in the world, affecting both developed and developing countries. The World Health Organization has estimated that approximately 1.6 billion people (i.e. close to one-fourth of the world's population) have anaemia; Africa is the most affected region. Anaemia is most prevalent among pregnant women and children below five years of age and is particularly prevalent during the first two years of life. Around 60% of African children below five years of age have anaemia (1). In sub-Saharan Africa, the prevalence of anaemia among preschool children ranges from 42% in Swaziland to 91% in Burkina Faso (2).

The Second Demographic and Reproductive Health Survey (3), conducted in 2005, showed that 52% of children aged [less than or equal to] 5 years in Cape Verde, West Africa, were anaemic. In a 1996 survey, prevalence of anaemia in this age-group was 70% (4). Despite the apparent decrease, the prevalence of anaemia is still alarmingly high and is a serious public-health concern (5) because of its capacity to impair cognitive and psychomotor development (6) and the general health of children. Moreover, no specific preventive or control policies for anaemia in Cape Verde target this age-group, further increasing their vulnerability to this condition.

In developing countries, insufficient dietary iron is considered the primary cause of anaemia in children. However, other factors, such as early weaning, poor health of pregnant women, insufficient safe drinking-water, inadequate hygiene and sanitary conditions, and poverty which increases the likelihood of all the abovementioned factors, may contribute to the development of the disease (7). Additional risk factors of anaemia include glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, haemoglobinopathies, and infectious diseases, such as malaria, which is endemic in African countries (8).

To date, no studies have explored the possible determinants of anaemia in children in Cape Verde. Considering the high prevalence of childhood anaemia in Cape Verde, its deleterious effects on children's health, possible developmental repercussions, and the absence of specific public health policies addressing this problem, anaemia is a high-priority topic for investigation. Thus, the present study aimed to assess the prevalence of anaemia among Cape Verdean children between 6 and 59 months of age and to identify high-risk subgroups based on the analysis of possible associated factors.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Sociodemographic characteristics of Cape Verde

Cape Verde is a small, archipelagic country in sub-Saharan Africa, with 491,575 inhabitants and a population growth rate of 1.23% per year. Nearly 10% of the population is below five years of age (9). Poverty in Cape Verde is more prevalent in single-parent families headed by women, with large numbers of children (3.7 children per household) living with low-quality sanitation and minimal education. Poverty affects 29% of families with children aged 0-5 year(s) (10). Mortality in under-five children has decreased from 31.9 per thousand in 2000 to 23.7 per thousand in 2009 (11).

Study design

The data analyzed in this study were derived from the survey on the Prevalence of Anemia and Associated Factors among Children under the Age of 10 Years in Cape Verde (IPAC, 2009), developed by the Ministry of Environment, Rural Development and Marine Resources of Cape Verde.

This was a cross-sectional household-based study with a probabilistic sample of 2,383 children between 6 months and 9 years of age. A two-stage cluster-sampling design was used, based on the "Wellbeing Indicator Questionnaire" (QUIBB) survey (10). The first stage related to the delineation of 11 study domains comprising the 9 inhabited islands of Cape Verde, one of which (the island of Santiago) was divided into 3 domains (Santiago Norte, Praia Urban, and the remainder of Santiago). …

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