Prevalence and changes of anemia among young children and women in 47 low- and middle-income countries, 2000-2018
Background: Anemia remains a major public health issue, particularly for children and women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, the current prevalence and recent changes of anemia among young children and women of reproductive age, particularly for pregnant women in different trimesters are unclear. We examined the current prevalence of anemia among children aged less than 5 years by age (6-35 months vs. 36-59 months) and women of reproductive age by pregnant status (pregnant vs. non-pregnant) and trimesters (the third vs. the second vs. the first trimester) between 2010 and 2018 and further examined changes in the prevalence from 2000-2009 to 2010-2018.
Methods: Data were from the cross-sectional Demographic and Health Surveys performed between 2000 and 2018. A total of 47 countries were included to examine the current prevalence of anemia (weighted prevalence and 95% confidence interval [CI]) among young children aged less than 5 years (N = 459,785) and 46 countries among women of reproductive age (N = 1,079,805) between 2010 and 2018. To examine changes in the prevalence of anemia, a total of 29 countries with at least two Demographic and Health Surveys performed between 2000 and 2009 (children: N = 130,772; women: N = 371,845) and 2010-2018 (children: N = 386,202; women: N = 928,889) were included. Modified Poisson regression analyses with robust error variance were used to examine changes in anemia between 2000-2009 and 2010-2018 in participants by child age (6-5 months vs. 36-59 months), women pregnant status (pregnant vs. non-pregnant), trimesters (the second or third trimester vs. the first trimester) with the adjustment for potential covariates.
Findings: In 47 LMICs for children aged less than 5 years between 2010 and 2018, the total prevalence of anemia was 56.5% (95% CI 56.2, 56.8). Younger children aged 6-35 months were more likely to have anemia than older children aged 36-59 months (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.38, 95% CI 1.36-1.39, P < 0.001). In 46 LMICs for women of reproductive age, the total prevalence was 40.4% (95% CI 40.1, 40.7). Pregnant women were more likely to have anemia than non-pregnant women (adjusted OR 1.14, 1.12-1.16, P < 0.001). Moreover, pregnant women in the third trimester (adjusted OR 1.55, 1.48-1.62, P < 0.001) and the second trimester (adjusted OR 1.51, 1.45-1.58, P < 0.001) were more likely to have anemia than those in the first trimester. Among 29 included countries, although there was a decreasing change (absolute change, relative change, and average annual rate of reduction) in young children and women between 2000-2009 and 2010-2018 in a majority of countries, the current prevalence of anemia remained at a high level.
Interpretation: The prevalence of anemia among children aged less than 5 years and women of reproductive age was still high in LMICs, particularly for younger children and pregnant women. The relative change among women of reproductive age was far away from the WHO goal of reduction of anemia by 50% by 2025 (i.e., prevalence reduction to about 15.2% by 2025 from 30.3% at 2012 baseline). Continued and effective efforts, particularly for high-risk populations, are needed to improve the general health of the population.
Department/SchoolMenzies Institute for Medical Research
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statement© 2021 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)