Iron deficiency in Massachusetts communities: Socioeconomic and demographic risk factors among children

James D. Sargent, Therese A. Stukel, Madeline A. Dalton, Jean L. Freeman, Mary Jean Brown

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33 Scopus citations


Objectives. This study examined the association between community rates of iron deficiency in children and sociodemographic characteristics of Massachusetts communities. Methods. Between April 1990 and March 1991, 238 273 Massachusetts children 6 through 59 months of age were screened; iron deficiency was defined as an erythrocyte protoporphyrin concentration of 0.62 μmol/L or higher and a blood lead level of less than 1.2 μmol/L. Sociodemographic data were obtained from the 1990 US Census. Results. Five percent of communities had iron deficiency rates greater than 13.9 per 100 children screened. Iron deficiency rate was positively associated with proportion of Southeast Asians (odds ratio [OR] = 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08, 1.12), proportion of Hispanics (OR = 1.008, 95% CI = 1.002, 1.013), and high school incompletion (OR = 1.028, 95% CI = 1,020, 1.035). Similarly, an examination of three Massachusetts cities indicated that the iron deficiency rate was higher for children with Southeast Asian (relative risk [RR] = 3.6, 95% CI = 3.3, 3.8) and Hispanic (RR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.5, 1.8) surnames than for all other children. Conclusions. Wide variation exists in iron deficiency rates for children in Massachusetts communities. Community iron deficiency was associated with low socioeconomic status and high proportions of Southeast Asians and Hispanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-550
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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