Demographic Characteristics and Low Iron Status Markers Are Associated with Hemoglobin Levels and Anemia among Children Living at High Elevation in Cusco, Peru

Maria Caravedo Martinez, Maria Luisa Morales, Melinda Wright, Martha Lopez, A. Clinton White, Miguel M. Cabada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Anemia is a complex condition associated with diet, chronic infections, and blood loss. Children living at high altitudes have higher absolute hemoglobin levels due to hypoxemia. However, they are exposed to repeated infections and dietary limitations. We conducted a cross-sectional study to identify factors affecting the hemoglobin concentration in children living in high-altitude rural communities in the Anta province of Peru. All children 3-16 years of age attending public schools were invited to participate. We enrolled children 3-16 years old in schools and visited their homes to collect demographic, socioeconomic, medical history, and anthropometric data. Children provided blood and stool samples for complete blood counts, iron status markers, and helminth infection testing. Among the 2,000 children enrolled, the mean age was 9.9 (63.4) years, 1,004 (50.2%) were female, and the median residence altitude was 3,398 (interquartile range 3,35-3,497) meters. The mean hemoglobin level was 15 (61.15) mg/dL; 320 (16%) had anemia as defined by WHO. Children with anemia were more likely to have lower serum iron levels (odds ratio [OR] 2.8 [95% CI 2.2-3.6], P <0.001) and serum transferrin saturation (OR 2.8 [95% CI 2-3.9], P <0.001). Younger age (OR 0.85 [95% CI 0.82-0.89], P <0.001), stunting (OR 0.68 [95% CI 0.59-0.79], P ,0.001), education of the mother (OR 0.94 [95% CI 0.91-0.98], P <0.005), and low eosinophils (OR 0.49 [95% CI 0.26-0.9], P = 0.022) were associated with anemia. Helminth infections were not associated with anemia. Anemia among children at high altitude is multifactorial, but iron deficiency is a contributing factor. Further studies are needed to evaluate iron status and anemia in children living at high altitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1014-1020
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume110
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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