Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Anaemia among Students of Rural China's Elementary Schools: Prevalence and Correlates in Ningxia and Qinghai's Poor Counties

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Anaemia among Students of Rural China's Elementary Schools: Prevalence and Correlates in Ningxia and Qinghai's Poor Counties

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, affecting approximately a quarter of the global population and is particularly widespread in developing countries (1,2). Deficiency in iron impedes the transport of oxygen between the brain and body, carried by haemoglobin (Hb) protein in red blood cells. In severe cases, anaemia can be life-threatening due to loss of blood or heart failure. Many vital aspects of human health are adversely affected by anaemia, including energy, temperature regulation, behaviour, and immune function (1,3). Furthermore, numerous studies have linked less extreme iron deficiency and anaemia to cognitive impairment and altered brain function (2,4).

Beyond immediate and long-term health consequences, anaemia is also associated with negative effects on learning abilities. Literature over the past three decades show links between iron deficiency (particularly during early childhood) and poor cognitive performance (5) and motor (6) and psychomotor development (7). Consequently, negative correlations have been identified between childhood anaemia and academic achievement, including grades, attendance, and attainment (8-11). Recognizing and treating anaemia are especially critical since developmental and behavioural damages have been shown to have long-lasting effects into adulthood in animal studies of biological mechanisms (12,13) and also in human studies (14-17). Due to the long-term effects, anaemia may hinder children's economic and social mobility, which perpetuates inequality trends between rural and urban regions (11).

The prevalence of anaemia generally decreases as incomes rise according to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) global database on anaemia and other international research and experiences (1,18). Yet paradoxically, China appears to deviate from the observed trends. Incomes in China have dramatically risen over the past three decades, even in rural areas. Despite greater wealth and growing government commitment for quality education, a recent country-wide 2002 China Nutrition and Health Survey found that 20.8% of residents in rural China are so deficient in iron as to be diagnosed as anaemic (19). Results of other available provincespecific studies indicate even a higher prevalence of anaemia among rural Chinese children: 40% of school children in Gansu province and 50-60% of students in Guizhou province (20,21). While regional studies generally include small sample populations and weak (reported) methodology, results still corroborate the prevalence of anaemia in rural areas high enough to be classified as either a moderate or severe public-health concern by the WHO standards (22). In fact, this study builds on the work of a previous survey in Shaanxi province in 2008, using nearly identical sampling and assessment methods as this study (23). The Shaanxi study found a 39% prevalence rate of anaemia among fourth and fifth grade students, just shy of the 40% anaemia cutoff required by the WHO to be considered a severe public-health concern. Addressing iron deficiency is a priority given its serious health and education effects and its implications for inequality. Distribution of income in China has been highly unequal in the recent past (24). The prevalence of high rates of anaemia suggests that the socioeconomic differences persist in economic and health conditions in China, despite the Government's efforts to reduce inequality.

In this paper, we have three objectives. First, we want to increase our understanding of the anaemia problem in the poor areas of Ningxia and Qinghai by identifying the prevalence rates of anaemia in the survey areas. Second, we hope to identify the individual-, household- and school-based factors that may be correlated with anaemia status. Finally, building on recent efforts (25), we aimed to further our understanding of the health and educational impacts of anaemia by describing correlations between the anaemia status and the performance of students on tests of the physical, psychological and cognitive outcomes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.