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Association between malnutrition and anemia in under-five children and women of reproductive age: Evidence from Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2011
Authors: M. Shafiqur Rahman, Muntaha Mushfiquee, Mohammad Shahed Masud, and Tamanna Howlader
Source: PLOS ONE , 14(7): e0219170; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219170
Topic(s): Anemia
Child health
Children under five
Women's health
Country: Asia
Published: JUL 2019
Abstract: Background Bangladesh is one of the most anemia prone countries in South Asia. Children of age under five years and women of reproductive age are particularly vulnerable in this region. Although several studies have investigated the risk factors of anemia, only few have explored its association with malnutrition, despite its high prevalence in the same group. The objective of this paper is to investigate the association of malnutrition with anemia by conducting separate analyses for under-five children and women of reproductive age using data from the nationally representative 2011 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Methods Two binary outcome variables are considered separately: presence of anemia in children under five years of age (Hb<11.0 g/dl) and presence of anemia in women of childbearing age (Hb<12.0 g/dl). The exposures of interest corresponding to these two outcomes are stunting (low height-for-age) and low BMI (<18.5 kg/m2), respectively. Preliminary analysis involves estimating the association between exposure and outcome while controlling for a single confounder by computing adjusted odds ratios (adjOR) using the Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel approach in stratified analysis. Later, associations between the exposures and outcomes are estimated separately for under-five children and women of reproductive age by fitting multivariable regression models that adjust simultaneously for several confounders. Results The prevalence of anemia is found to be higher among both the stunted children and women with low BMI compared to their healthy counterparts (Children: 56% vs 48%; women: 50% vs 43%). Furthermore, stunted children and women with low BMI have significantly increased odds of developing anemia, as reflected by the adjusted ORs of 1.76 (95% CI:1.10–2.83) and 1.81 (95% CI: 1.11–3.48), respectively. The association of stunting with anemia in children was modified by their age and socio-economic condition, where risk of being anemic decreases with increasing age but with a lower rate for stunted children from richest family. In addition, stunted children of anemic mothers are at greater risk of being anemic compared to non-stunted children of anemic or non-anemic mothers. Again the association between BMI and anemia in women is modified by the level of education, with risk of anemia being lowest among women with low BMI and higher education. Conclusion Evidence–based policies targeting the vulnerable groups are required to combat anemia and nutritional deficiencies simultaneously under the same program.