Risk factors for anemia in children under 6 years of age in Ethiopia: analysis of the data from the cross-sectional Malaria IndicatorSurvey, 2007

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2013 Dec;107(12):769-76. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/trt096. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


Background: Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity in Ethiopia. However, its transmission varies in both space and time, and large areas of the country are hypoendemic and epidemic-prone. The Ethiopia National Malaria Indicator Survey 2007 is a cross-sectional, nationally-representative household survey. The objective of the analyses presented here were to use the survey's data to identify factors associated with anemia presence in children under 6 years of age (U6); specifically, investigate the association between malaria and anemia; and discuss using anemia as a malaria proxy biomarker in the Ethiopian hypo-endemic transmission setting.

Methods: The survey sampled 4185 households in 347 enumeration areas ≤2500 m above sea level. Primary outcome was increasing anemia severity in sampled children: no anemia (Hb: ≥11g/dl); mild anemia (Hb: ≥8g/dl and <11g/dl); and moderate-severe anemia (Hb: <8g/dl). Secondary outcomes were positive malaria rapid diagnostic test (RDT) or blood slide microscopy.

Results: The analysis included 6054 (92.0%) children U6 in 3962 households. The proportion of children with no anemia, mild anemia, and moderate-severe anemia was 63.6%, 31.3%, and 5.1%, respectively. The overall prevalence of anemia (Hb <11g/dl) was 36.4% (95% CI 34.4-38.4). Factors independently associated with reduced relative odds of anemia categories were age (OR=0.7, 95% CI 0.7-0.7) and female sex (OR=0.9, 95% CI 0.8-1.0); malaria RDT positivity was associated with increased relative odds of a more severe anemia category (OR=5.8, 95% CI 3.7-9.2).

Conclusions: We conclude that at altitudes ≤2500 m malaria appears to be a significant risk factor for anemia; potentially anemia could be used as a useful proxy biomarker for malaria and its control in Ethiopia.

Keywords: Anemia; Ethiopia; Malaria; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / diagnosis
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Anemia / pathology
  • Attitude to Health
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Malaria / blood
  • Malaria / diagnosis
  • Malaria / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Hemoglobins