This analysis seeks to determine the risk factors for anemia among a population of women in the Lake Zone of Tanzania.
We examined the association between anemia and reported water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) practices, bed net use, and food consumption among 2,255 females of childbearing age. Multivariate logistic regression for clustered data was used to identify risk factors for maternal anemia, defined as hemoglobin concentration (Hb) <12.0 g/dL for non-pregnant women and Hb <11.0 g/dL for pregnant women.
The prevalence of anemia was high (38.4%) in this population. Eighty-seven percent of women reported previous day consumption of iron rich foods and 89% used bed nets the previous night. Twenty-two percent of women reported being ill in the past 4 weeks. The proportion of households with adequate WASH practices was low. Less than 1% used correct systematic treatment for drinking water, 1.8% had soap and water at a hand washing station, and 15.3% an improved sanitation facility. Consumption of iron-rich foods (OR=1.5, p<0.01) and the mother reporting being ill significantly increased the odds of being anemic (OR=1.4, p<0.01), while use of bed net (OR=0.7, p<0.01) and access to improved sanitation (OR=0.8, p=0.08) significantly or marginally significantly decreased the odds of being anemic.
In this population, the consumption of iron-rich foods indicator, may not accurately reflect increased iron intake, given the very high consumption of fish. This analysis demonstrates the importance of promoting WASH practices, in addition to malaria prevention practices and iron consumption, to reduce anemia.