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Demographic and Spatial Predictors of Anemia in Women of Reproductive Age in Timor-Leste: Implications for Health Program Prioritization
Authors: Andrew A. Lover, Mikael Hartman, Kee Seng Chia, and David L. Heymann
Source: PLOS ONE , 9(3): e91252. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091252
Topic(s): Anemia
Women's health
Country: Asia
Published: MAR 2014
Abstract: Anemia is a significant risk factor for poor health outcomes for both the mother and neonate; however, the determinants of anemia in many epidemiological settings are poorly understood. Using a subset of a nationally representative cluster survey (2010 Demographic and Health Survey) in combination with other non-contemporaneous survey data, the epidemiology of anemia among women of reproductive age in Timor-Leste has been explored. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors, population-level impacts were estimated as population attributable fractions and spatial analytics were used to identify regions of highest risk. The DHS survey found that ~21% of adult women in Timor-Leste are anemic (49,053; 95% CI: 37,095 to 61,035), with hemoglobin <12.0 g/dL. In this population, the main risk factors (adjusted odds ratio; 95% CI) are: currently abstaining from sex for any reason (2.25; 1.50 to 3.38); illiteracy (2.04; 1.49 to 2.80); giving birth within the previous year (1.80; 1.29 to 2.51); consumption of fruits/vegetables low in vitamin A (1.57; 1.13 to 2.20); and the district-level confirmed malaria incidence (1.31; 1.15 to 1.49). A review of prior soil-transmitted helminth surveys in Timor-Leste indicates low-to-moderate prevalence with generally low egg counts, suggesting a limited impact on anemia in this setting, although comprehensive survey data are lacking. Examination of the population-level effects highlights the impacts of both recent births and malaria on anemia, with more limited impacts from diet; the evidence does not suggest a large contribution from geohelminths within Timor-Leste. These patterns are divergent from some other settings in the Asia-Pacific region and highlight the need for further focused research. Targeting high-burden districts and by increasing access to pre/postnatal care, raising literacy levels, increasing access to family planning, and improving malaria control should be prioritized to maximize inherently limited health budgets in reaching these populations.