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The effects of iron deficiency and anaemia on primary school learners’ scholastic performance

Bongiwe P S Hlatswayo, Sibusiso Ntshangase, François Pierre Rousseau de Villiers

Abstract


Background. Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a preventable cause of cognitive impairment and other negative effects on the academic potential of learners. 

Objectives. To determine the local prevalence of IDA among grade 2 learners in a resource-poor community and to evaluate the association between IDA and the learners’ scholastic performance. 

Methods. This was a case-control observational design study. Data were collected using a stadiometer and an electronic scale, HemoCue Hb 201+ system and official grade 1 school reports. 

Results. The point prevalence of IDA was found to be 9.8% (n=19), with a higher prevalence among girls (58%). There was no statistically significant difference between the performances of the two groups (p=0.511) in mathematics. There was a statistically significant difference for life skills (p=0.00017), and the difference between the groups in literacy or languages approached statistical significance (p=0.071). 

Conclusions. The results of this study suggest that IDA is prevalent and may have negative effects on learners’ scholastic performances. Such negative effects warrant early preventive measures so as to avoid the possibilities of school failure, drop-out and poor productivity in adulthood.


Authors' affiliations

Bongiwe P S Hlatswayo, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Medical University of South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), Pretoria, South Africa

Sibusiso Ntshangase, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

François Pierre Rousseau de Villiers, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Medical University of South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

Iron deficiency; iron-deficiency anaemia; scholastic performance; school children; school report; nutritional disorder

Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2016;10(2):111. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2016.v10i2.887

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-11-19
Date published: 2016-06-29

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