Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
QUIZHPE, Edy; SAN SEBASTIAN, Miguel; HURTIG, Anna Karin and LLAMAS, Ana. Prevalence of anemia in schoolchildren in the Amazon area of Ecuador. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2003, vol.13, n.6, pp. 355-361. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892003000500003.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of anemia in rural school-age children in the Amazon region of Ecuador. METHODS: We carried out a cross-sectional study during May to October 2000 in two cantons of the province of Orellana, in northeastern Ecuador, involving 626 children from 17 schools. Demographic and anthropometric data (weight and height) were collected, values for hemoglobin and for zinc erythrocyte protoporphyrin were determined, and feces samples were analyzed to check for infestation by parasites. RESULTS: The general prevalence of anemia was 16.6% among the schoolchildren; of the affected children, 75.5% of them had iron-deficiency anemia. The prevalence of moderate chronic undernutrition was 28.8% and that of serious chronic undernutrition was 9.3%. There was also a prevalence of moderate acute undernutrition of 8.4% and of severe acute undernutrition of 3.4%. Parasitic infections were very frequent (82.0%). The most common parasites were Entamoeba coli (30.3%) and Ascaris lumbricoides (25.0%). There were no relationships between the prevalence of either anemia or of iron-deficiency anemia and any of the indicators of nutrition or of parasitic infection. CONCLUSIONS: Anemia is not a serious public health problem in the population studied. Nevertheless, the high prevalence of chronic undernutrition among the children points to the need to improve their diets. The lack of association between the prevalence of undernutrition and anemia could be due to low iron bioavailability or absorption rather than insufficient intake. Studies are needed to evaluate the customary diet of this population.
Keywords : Anemia; hierro; escolares; Amazonas; Ecuador.