Poor nutritional status, anaemia, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia among children in
many parts of Kenya continues to be public health issues especially in arid and semi-arid lands
which are generally food insecure. Available nutritional status monitoring methods in Kenya do
not capture adequate data for decision making. The general objective of this study was to
determine iron and nutritional status and associated factors among children 12-59 months old in
Migwani Division, Mwingi, a district within arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 293 children (147 boys and 146 girls) aged 12-59
months in January/ February 2010 in Migwani division, Mwingi district. Nutritional status of the
children was assessed using anthropometric indices and the WHO 2005 child growth reference
standards. Haemoglobin concentration was determined using a haematological analyzer and
anaemia defined as haemoglobin concentration <110g/L. Hb concentration and anaemia was
adjusted for altitude and ethnicity. Serum ferritin concentration was determined using enzyme
linked fluorescent immune assay- ALFA and iron deficiency was defined as serum ferritin
concentration <12 μg/l. Iron deficiency anaemia was defined as concurrent anaemia and iron
deficiency. Serum ferritin and iron deficiency was corrected for infection using C-reactive
protein which was determined using nyco card reader. SPSS version 16 and EPI info-ENA were
used for data analysis. Multiple logistic regressions were done to determine independent factors.
Stepwise backward elimination method was used to develop the best final models. Research was
approved by Kenyatta National Hospital Ethical Review committee.
Over half (54.1%) of the subjects (48.0 – 60.1 C.I.) were stunted while 35.8% (30.7 – 41.4 C.I.)
were underweight. These rates were higher than the national average as reported in the 2008/09
Kenya Demographic and Health Survey. The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition was
10.3% (6.3 – 16.3 C.I.). Prevalence of anaemia before and after adjusting for altitude and
ethnicity was 34.5% and 16.7% respectively. The prevalence of iron deficiency before and after
correcting for infection was 23.0% and 29.5% respectively. Factors found to be independently
associated with anaemia were: birth order (OR=0.77; p=.001), age (OR=1.04; p=.0323), dietary
diversity (OR=1.71; p=.001), stunting (OR=4.28; p=.0007) and iron deficiency (OR=4.23;
p=.0006). Age (OR=1.06; p=.000) was independently associated with iron deficiency while
factors independently associated with iron deficiency anaemia were age (OR=1.05; p=.024) and
birth order (OR=0.79; p=0.006). Breastfeeding status (OR=0.35; P=.012), stunting (OR=49.47;
p=.000) and wasting (OR=152.17; p=.000) were independently associated with Underweight.
Underweight (OR=14.67; p=.000) was independently associated with stunting while factors
independently associated with wasting were age (OR=1.04; p=.036) and underweight
(OR=25.51; p=.000).
We conclude that anaemia status among children in Migwani is of mild public health
significance (5.0-19.9%) while global acute malnutrition is a serious public health issue (10-
14%) according to World Health Organization classification. Low birth order, young age, low
dietary diversity, stunting and iron deficiency are risk factors to anaemia. Young age is risk to
iron deficiency. Young age is a risk factor while low birth order is a protective factor to iron
deficiency anaemia. Underweight is associated with stunting while young age and underweight
are risk factors to wasting. Breastfeeding children were protected from underweight while
stunting and wasting are risk factors to underweight.
The households and community members should improve care and support of children while the
government and NGOs should put/improve mechanisms in place to prevent and correct the
problem of stunting, anaemia and iron deficiency such as promotion of exclusive breastfeeding
and dietary diversification. There is need to strengthen nutrition status monitoring in the area in
order to implement timely and evidence based interventions.
Key words: anaemia, iron deficiency, nutritional status, children, Kenya