Poster Topical Area: Global Nutrition

Location: Hall D

Poster Board Number: 605

P12-130 - Anemia Prevalence and Risk Factors in Zambian Adolescent Girls

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Objectives: Anemia has significant adverse effects on adolescent growth and development, yet anemia prevalence and associated risk factors in Zambian adolescents are unknown. Our objective was to evaluate factors associated with anemia among Zambian girls and young women ages 15–22 in 2015-2016.

This study includes participants of the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program conducted in five urban and five rural sites across Zambia. Annual assessments included among other topics, health experiences, demographic factors, and dietary diversity. Anemia prevalence was determined with HemoCue point-of-care finger-stick testing. Moderate/severe anemia (M/SA classification was specific to hemoglobin, altitude level, and pregnancy status. The Minimum Dietary Diversity score – Women (MDD-W) was calculated based on self-reported daily intake; a score ≤ 4 indicated low dietary diversity. Prevalence of thinness was computed as <-2SD below mean weight-for-age z-score (ages 15–19) and underweight was computed as a body mass index <18.5 (ages 20–22).

Of 2563 girls, 1% exhibited thinness and 12% were underweight during the time of the survey; 20.2% had moderate/severe anemia in 2015, compared to 22.4% in 2016. MDD-W ≤ 4 was observed in 48% of adolescents, and more common among girls who were younger, rural, not married, not currently enrolled in school, had parents with lower educational attainment, and reported low self-esteem. An MDD-W ≤ 3 was associated with increased risk of M/SA (p=0.03); no association was observed with an MDD-W ≤ 4. Other risk factors associated with M/SA included HIV diagnosis and pregnancy (p<0.01), while M/SA was less prevalent among breastfeeding adolescents (17.5% versus 12.2%; p<0.01). Girl's education status, geographic location (urban/rural), and household wealth were not associated with anemia status. Fifty percent of the girls with M/SA in 2015 continued to have M/SA in 2016.

Anemia prevalence remains above 20% among Zambian adolescent girls, and over half of girls with anemia in 2015 continued to experience the condition in 2016. Further investigation of associated risk factors and effective anemia treatment programs is needed, particularly among girls living with HIV and pregnant adolescents.

Funding Source: UK Department for International Development (DFID)
PATH Nutrition Embedding Evaluation Programme

CoAuthors: Jean Digitale, MPH – Population Council; Erica Soler-Hampejsek, PhD – Population Council; Karen Austrian, PhD – Population Council; Kathryn Spielman, MPH – Population Council; Jere Behrman, PhD – University of Pennsylvania; Paul Hewett, PhD – Population Council

Amanda L. Willig

Assistant Professor
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama