Research

Persistent and new-onset anaemia in children aged 6 - 8 years from KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

Thando Patience Gwetu, Meera Chhagan (deceased), Murray Craib, Myra Taylor, Shuaib Kauchali

Abstract


Background. Anaemia impairs normal development in children and has wide-ranging social and economic implications. Existing anaemia control strategies primarily target anaemia in infancy. The contribution, however, of anaemia in preschool- and school-aged children as well as its long-term effects has not been extensively evaluated.

Objectives. To determine the prevalence of anaemia in the same children on two occasions at least 18 months apart.

Method. We carried out a longitudinal study in a rural community of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Haemoglobin (Hb) levels were measured using the HaemoCue at baseline when the children were aged 4 - 6 years, and the follow-up assessment was done at age 6 - 8 years. HIV screening and helminth testing was offered to all the children. 

Results. Hb levels at both baseline and follow-up were available for 181 children. The baseline anaemia prevalence was 56.9% (mean Hb 11.2, standard deviation (SD) 1.14) and at follow-up the anaemia prevalence was 41.9% (mean Hb 11.7, SD 1.19). There were 21/180 (11.7%) children with new-onset anaemia at follow-up, while anaemia from baseline persisted in 43/103 (41.8%).

Conclusions. The findings suggest a high burden of anaemia in these school-aged children, which might be reduced with early interventions. Interventions targeting screening and management of anaemia, chronic infections and nutritional deficiencies are recommended.


Authors' affiliations

Thando Patience Gwetu, Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Meera Chhagan (deceased), Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Murray Craib, Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Myra Taylor, Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

Shuaib Kauchali, Department of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban; and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban

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Keywords

Anaemia; associated factors; school-age children; persistent; new-onset

Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2015;9(4):127-129. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2015.v9i4.929

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-12-31
Date published: 2015-11-06

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