Title: Anemia and associated factors among children 6-23 months in Damot Sore District, Wolaita Zone, South Ethiopia.
Background: anemia affects a significant part of the population in nearly every country in the globe. Iron requirements are greatest at ages 6-23 months, when growth is extremely rapid and critically essential in critical times of life. Even though infants and toddlers are highly at risk, they are not considered as separate populations in estimation of anemia. Despite this, a couple of activities done by the government, showed that prevalence of anemia among under 24 months of age is still at its highest point of severity to be a public health problem in Ethiopia. There is no study that documented the magnitude of the problem and associated factors in the study area. The main aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of anemia and to identify associated factors among children 6-23 months of age. Methods: a community based cross-sectional study was carried out among 485 children of Damot Sore, South Ethiopia from March to April 2017. Data on socio demographic, dietary, blood samples for hemoglobin level and malaria infection were collected. Both descriptive and bivariate analyses were done and all variables having a p- value of 0.25 were selected for multivariable analyses. Multivariable logistic regression model was used to isolate independent predictors of anemia at p-value less than 0.05. Principal component analysis were used to generate household wealth score, dietary diversity score. Results: out of 522 sampled children selected for study, 485 children underwent all the study components giving a response rate of 92.91%. Altitude and smoking adjusted prevalence of anemia was 255(52.6%). Larger proportion, 128(26.4%) of children had moderate anemia. In multivariable analyses, household food insecurity (AOR=2.74(95% CI: 1.62-4.65)), poor dietary diversity (AOR=2.86(95%CI: 1.73-4.7)), early or late initiation of complementary feeding (AOR=2.0(95%CI: 1.23-3.60)), poor breast feeding practice (AOR=2.6(95% CI: 1.41-4.62)), and poor utilization of folic acid (AOR=2.75(1.42-5.36)) were significantly associated with anemia. Conclusion and recommendation: prevalence of anemia among children (6-23 months) was severe public health problem in the study area. Most important predictors are suboptimal child feeding practices, food insecurity and poor diet. Mullti-sectoral efforts are needed to improve health and interventions targeting nutrition security are recommended.