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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;58(4):681-91.

Prevalence and severity of anemia and iron deficiency: cross-sectional studies in adolescent schoolgirls in western Kenya.

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Kenya Medical Research Institute, Centre for Vector Biology and Control Research, Kisumu, Kenya.



Anemia is a major public health concern in preschool children and pregnant women in the developing world. While many studies have examined these two at-risk groups, there is a paucity of data on anemia in adolescents living in developing countries in the complex ecologic context of poverty, parasitism, and malnutrition. We evaluated the prevalence, severity, and risk factors of anemia in adolescent schoolgirls in an area with intense malaria transmission in western Kenya.


Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted, using a multistage random sample design.


Public primary schools in an area with intense malaria transmission in western Kenya.


A total of 648 randomly selected adolescent schoolgirls aged 12-18 y.


The prevalence of anemia (Hb <120 g/l) was 21.1%; only one girl had an Hb less than 70 g/l. Ferritin levels were available from a subsample of 206 girls. The prevalence of iron deficiency (ferritin <12 microg/l) was 19.8, and 30.4% of anemic girls were iron deficient. Malaria and schistosomiasis were the main risk factors for anemia in younger girls (12-13 y), while menstruation was the principal risk factor in older girls (14-18 y).


Iron deficiency and anemia in school-attending girls in western Kenya were more prevalent than in developed countries, but considerably less prevalent than in preschool children and pregnant women from the same study area. Our findings are consistent with other recent school-based surveys from western Kenya, but not with recent community- and school-based cross-sectional surveys from other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It deserves further study to determine if adolescent girls not attending school are at higher risk of anemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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