Anaemia affects half of Indigenous kids

A study has found alarming rates of iron deficiency in Indigenous school kids, many times higher than their non-Indigenous peers

In the study published this week in the Australian Journal of Rural Health, researchers screened 201 Indigenous students aged 5-15 years within a remote Northern Territory community.

Of these, they found 105 (52%) were found to be anaemic.

In contrast, an Australian general population study of over 1500 school-aged children found anaemia prevalence in girls aged 9-15 was 0-9.2%, and 0.5-1.7% in boys aged in 9-15.

No significant association was found between anaemic Indigenous students and age, gender, BMI or prior history of anaemia.

Meanwhile in those who were followed up and treated with oral or intramuscular iron supplementation, as specified in current guidelines, 83% achieved normal haemoglobin levels after four weeks.

The authors point out that malnutrition with concomitant iron-deficiency anaemia impairs childhood cognitive, psychomotor and physical development.

“Anaemia in Indigenous Australian school-aged children is a major public health issue,” they write.

However recommended treatments appeared to be effective in this population.

“In our experience, the current methods are well tolerated, and the use of parenteral iron has previously been limited in our population setting.

“Community wide interventions are required to combat this alarming issue,” the researchers conclude.

See the full paper

Image by Global Panorama, Flickr.

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