Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Anemia and Iron Status in Inuit Infants from Northern Quebec

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Anemia and Iron Status in Inuit Infants from Northern Quebec

Article excerpt


The iron status and diet of Inuit infants living in northern Quebec who were part of a prospecitve cohort study was described. The prevalence of anemia (hemoglobin values > 2SD below the reference mean) was 21.1% (23/109), 47.4% (55/116) and 37.7% (46/122) at 2, 6 and 13 months, respectively. The corresponding prevalence of microcytic anemia was 0.0%, 4.3% and 21.3%. At 2, 6 and 12 months, iron-deficiency anemia (serum ferritin < 10 (mu)g/L coupled with anemia) was present in 1.3% (1/79), 24.4% (21/86) and 26.3% (25/95) of infants, respectively. Compared with breastfeeding, the odds ration for iron deficiency (serum ferritin < 10 (mu)g/L) for bottle-feeding with cows' milk or low iron formula was 3.02 (95% CI 1.25-7.27) at 6 months and 3.05 (95% CI 1.28-7.28) at 12 months. This study shows iron-deficiency anemia to be a problem in Inuit infants as young as 6 months old. Breastfed infants were better protected against iron deficiency than infants fed cow's milk or low-iron formula.


Le statut nutritionnel en fer et les apports alimentaitres chez les nourrissons vivant dans le nord du Quebec qui faisaient parti d'une etude de cohorte ont ete decrit. La prevalence de l'anemie(hemoglobine >2 SD au-dessous de la reference moyenne) etait de 21,2 % (23.109), 47,4 % (55/116) et 37,7 % (46/122) a 2, 6, et 12 nois respectivement. La prevalence correspondante d'anemie microcitique etait de 0,0 %, 4.3 % et 21,3 %. A 2, 6 et 13 mois, l'anemie du a la carence en fer (serum ferritin < 10 (mu)g/L couple a l'anemic)etait respectivement presente chez 1,3 % (1/79), 24, 4 % (21/86) et 26, 3% (25/95) des nourrissons. Comparativement a l'allaitement, les chances de carence en fer pour les enfants nourrissons nourtis au lait de vache ou au lait maternise failble en fer, etait de 3,02 (95 % CI 1,25-- 7, 27) a 6 mois et 3,05 (95 % CI 1, 28-728) a 12 mois. Cette etude demontre que l'anemic du a la carence en fer est un probleme chez les nourrissons Inuits aussi jeune que 6 mois. Les nourrissons allaites etaient mieux proteges contre la carence, en fer que les nouttissons nourris au lait de vache ou au lait maternise faible en fet.

Nunavik, the northern part of the province of Quebec, is a predominantly Inuit region where clinicians perceive anemia to be a problem in infants but prevalence data are not available, nor has the cause of the problem been identified. This health issue requires attention because iron-deficiency anemia can lead to compromised intellectual development.1,2 The purpose of this study was to use data from a prospective cohort study conducted in 1989-1990 to describe values for erythrocyte mean cell volume, hemoglobin and serum ferritin in the first year of life. From these variables, prevalence data for anemia, microcytic anemia, iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia were obtained. To understand the causes of anemia and iron deficiency, associations between hematologic variables, serum ferritin and dietary data were evaluated.

From a public health perspective, this study provides preliminary data on risk factors for anemia and iron deficiency, as well as population-specific baseline measures against which interventions to reduce anemia can be judged. The study is unique in that it is the first report of this kind in Inuit infants and it offers a longitudinal profile of anemia and iron deficiency in the first year of life.


Data gathered as part of a study to assess the impact of environmental contaminants on infant health3,4 included hemoglobin, mean cell volume (MCV) and serum ferritin. The study covered the area served by the two community hospitals in the region of Nunavik. Subjects were infants born between July 15, 1989 and September 15, 1990 in these communities. Infants were followed longitudinally and were examined at approximately 2, 6 and 12 months of age. At each visit, blood was drawn if the infant was free from apparent illness. …

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