Anaemia and iron deficiency among adolescent schoolgirls in peri-urban Bangladesh

F Ahmed, M R Khan, M Islam, I Kabir, G J Fuchs
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000, 54 (9): 678-83

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency among adolescent schoolgirls in peri-urban Bangladesh, and to identify various factors associated with anaemia in this population.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional design.

SETTING: Girls' high schools in five sub-districts of Dhaka.

SUBJECTS: Adolescent girls (n=548) aged 11-16 y from nine schools in Dhaka district participated in the study. Socio-economic, anthropometric and dietary information were collected. Blood haemoglobin (Hb), serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), transferrin saturation (TS), serum ferritin (SF) and serum retinol (vitamin A) were determined.

RESULTS: The prevalence of anaemia (Hb<120 g/l) among the participants was 27%. Seventeen percent had depleted iron stores (SF<12 microg/l). Of all anaemic girls, 32% had iron deficiency anaemia (Hb<120 g/l and SF<12 microg/l). When the girls were classified by serum vitamin A, the third with the lowest serum retinol levels had significantly lower Hb and SF levels. Significant positive correlations were observed between Hb and serum iron, TS, SF and retinol, while there was a negative correlation with serum TIBC. Occupancy, frequency of consumption of large fish, serum iron, TIBC, TS, SF and serum vitamin A were strongly related to Hb by multiple regression analysis. For 1 microg/l change in SF concentration, there was a 0.046 g/l change in Hb, when adjusted for all other factors.

CONCLUSION: Anaemia among these adolescent schoolgirls in peri-urban Bangladesh cannot be explained by iron deficiency alone, and other causes may also exist in this population.

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