The study was conducted to assess the prevalence of and factors associated with haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations among children aged 6-59 months in Timor-Leste. The 2003 Demographic and Health Survey was a multi-stage cluster survey of 4,320 households from four different geographic regions in Timor-Leste. In total, 4,514 children aged 6-59 months were included in the analysis. The prevalence of anaemia (Hb concentration <11.0g/dL) was 38.2% (638/1,668) for children aged 6-23 months and 22.6% (644/2,846) for older children (p<0.001). Girls had a higher mean Hb concentration than boys (11.9g/dL vs 11.7g/dL, p<0.006) and children who had diarrhoea in the previous two weeks had a lower Hb concentration than children without diarrhoea (11.5g/dL vs 11.9g/dL, p<0.001). Children from the richest and middleclass households had a lower average Hb concentration than those from the poorest households (11.8g/dL, 11.7g/dL vs 12.0g/dL, p<0.001). Children of mothers with some secondary or more education had a lower mean Hb concentration than children of mothers with completed primary, some primary and no education (11.7 g/dL vs 11.9 g/dL, 11.8 g/dL, and 11.9 g/dL, p=0.002). Children from severely-anaemic mothers had a lower mean Hb concentration than children from moderately-, mild and not anaemic mothers (10.5 g/dL vs 11.1 g/dL, 11.6 g/dL, 12.0 g/dL, p<0.001). After backward stepwise hierarchical multiple regression, wasting, male sex, recent diarrhoea, household wealth index (richest and middle-class), maternal educational status (some secondary or more and some primary), and maternal anaemic status were significantly associated with a lower Hb concentration in children and increased age of child and duration of breastfeeding (6 months) with a higher Hb concentration. Anaemia-prevention programmes among children in Timor-Leste should focus on those children aged less than two years, children with recent diarrhoea, wasted children, high socioeconomic status, and anaemic mothers.
Journal of Health Population and Nutrition Vol. 26, Issue 2, p. 200-209