Anemia, mostly caused due to dietary iron deficiency is a major public health concern among adolescent girls, particularly of low and middle income countries (LMICs). Malnutrition primarily results due to simultaneous deficit of essential nutrients in diet. Present study investigated the prevalence and association between malnutrition and anemia among adolescent girls (10-19 years) in Bangladesh.
Study participants included 1314 adolescent girls, a representative sub-sample of a nationwide survey conducted between October 2015 and January 2016. Blood hemoglobin level was estimated using HemoCueÂ®; anthropometric measurements through standardized procedure and other related information captured using a pretested structured questionnaire. Malnutrition was defined as BMI-for-age Z-score below -2SD (BAZ<-2SD), measured in WHO-AnthroPlus. Univariate analysis was performed to examine the association between malnutrition and outcome variable (anemia). Thereafter, multiple logistic regression was carried out to control the effect of any potential confounders lies between malnutrition and anemia.
Overall, 51.6% girls were suffering from any form of anemia (non-pregnant-Hb<12g/dl; pregnant-Hb<11g/dl) while 46% were mildly (non-pregnant-Hb:10-11.9g/dl; pregnant-Hb:10-10.9g/dl) and 5.4% were moderately (Hb:7-9.9g/dl) anemic. Around, 9% girls were malnourished and malnutrition was a risk factor of anemia (cOR=1.48; 95% CI: 1.01-2.18; p=0.047). After controlling for confounders such as household wealth index, education, marital status and household food availability in multiple logistic regression model, malnutrition remained as independent predictor of anemia (aOR=1.47; 95% CI: 1.01-2.17; p=0.049).
Anemia is highly prevalent among adolescent girls and malnourished girls were more vulnerable. Therefore, besides focused anemia control initiatives, malnutrition also needs to be addressed to tackle anemia problem among adolescent girls.