Iron Deficiency Among Non‑Anemic Under‑Five Children in Enugu, South‑East, Nigeria
Background: Iron deficiency has been described as the world most common nutritional deficiency and the commonest cause of nutritional anemia in infancy and childhood. The deleterious behavioral and cognitive deficit associated with iron‑deficiency anemia could be irreversible. Therefore, the latter should be prevented by early detection of iron deficiency in the non‑anemic groups.
Aim: To determine the prevalence of iron deficiency in the non‑anemic under‑five children and to document its variation among the age classes of these children.
Subjects and Methods: Under‑five children presenting at a tertiary hospital were consecutively enrolled, Serum ferritin levels of the subjects were used to assess the iron status and serum ferrritin level of less than 12 ng/ml was considered as iron deficiency. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 15.0. Chi‑square tests were employed as necessary for test of significance in each of the characteristics of the population at P ≤ 0.05.
Results: A total of 178 non anemic under‑five children were studied, their mean hematocrit and serum ferrritin values were 35.5 (2.8%) and 54.9 (76.1) ng/ml respectively. Forty‑nine (27.5% [49/178]) of the study population was iron deficient and there was no significant difference in the prevalence of iron deficiency among the age classes (P = 0.75).
Conclusion: This study has documented a high prevalence of iron deficiency in non‑anemic under‑five children presenting at the outpatient department and emergency room of a tertiary health facility in Enugu. All the age classes were relatively affected. A further research into the causes of iron deficiency in this age group is recommended.
Keywords: Anemia, Deficiency, Ferritin, Iron, Under‑five children