Anemia and associated factors among school-age children in Cape Verde, West Africa
Anemia is a problem affecting a large group of school children in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to morbidity in this region. In Cape Verde the magnitude of anemia in school-age children is unknown. The study aimed to assess the prevalence of anemia and associated factors among children in Cape Verde. The data are from a probabilistic sample of 1106 children between five and nine years of age included in the National Survey on the Prevalence of Anemia and Associated Factors among Children aged less than ten years which was organized by the Government of Cape Verde in 2009. Anemia was assessed by measuring blood hemoglobin (Hb) concentration using a portable hemoglobinometer. Children with Hb lower than 11.5 g/dL were considered anemic. Information on the families’ socioeconomic conditions and the children’s health variables were obtained through interviews with parents or guardians. Weight status and height deficits were defined by sex and age specific body mass index (BMI = weight/height2) and height for age cutoffs, respectively. Associations between anemia and socio-environmental, anthropometric and children´s health variables were investigated by means of logistic regression, using hierarchical multivariate analysis. Odds ratios (OR) and the respective 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated. The prevalence of anemia was 23.8% (95% CI: 20.2% - 27.8%); 8.8% of children presented height-for-age deficit, 9.8% had thinness and 5.3% were obese. The factors associated with anemia were unfavorable socio-environmental conditions (OR = 1.92; 95% CI: 1.10-3.36) and age five to six, compared with seven to nine years (OR = 1.55; 95% CI: 1.13-2.13). Anemia among school-age children is a moderate public health problem in Cape Verde that mainly affects those between five and six years of age, belonging to families with low socio-environmental condition. Prevention and control programs for this disease should be implemented in conjunction with actions to improve the conditions of Cape Verdean families.
Key words: Anemia, socio-environmental conditions, school children.