Prevalence and risk factors of childhood anemia in Nepal: A multilevel analysis

PLoS One. 2020 Oct 6;15(10):e0239409. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239409. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: Anemia is a common problem in children particularly in developing countries and taking steps to tackle it is one of the major public health challenges for Nepal. The objective of this study is to investigate the prevalence of individual, household and community level determinants of childhood anemia in Nepal.

Methods: Data was taken from a nationally representative sample of 1,942 Nepalese children aged from 6-59 months. The Chi-square test was used to determine the bivariate relationship between the selected variables and childhood anemia and a multilevel logistic regression model with a random intercept at household and community level was used to identify important determinants of this kind of anemia.

Results: The results showed that 52.6% (95% CI: 49.8%-55.4%) of the children were anemic while 26.6% (95% CI: 24.0%-29.3%) of them were moderate to severe. The prevalence of overall anemia was higher among children aged less than 11 months as well as in underweight children, children of underweight, anemic and uneducated mothers and those in the terrain ecological regions. Multivariable analysis showed that children aged less than 11 months, who were underweight and had anemic mothers were more likely to have moderate or severe anemia. Children in the hilly ecological region were less likely to have it compared to mountain and terrain ecological regions. Children in middle-class families and children of mothers who completed secondary education were more likely to have anemia.

Conclusion: Nepal is facing a serious public health problem due to the high prevalence of childhood anemia. This adverse situation occurs due to socio-demographic and geographical factors such as age, malnutrition status, mother's anemia status, socio-economic status and regional variations. Prevention of childhood anemia should be given top priority in Nepal and should be considered as a major public health intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.