Background: Anaemia is a silent but deteriorating health problem and Iron deficiency anaemia being very common in developed countries. It affects approximately 25% of school-aged children globally. 48% of the children aged between 5 and 14 years are anemic in developing countries. Iron deficiency anaemia adversely affects aerobic fitness, endurance capacity and efficiency of work. Childhood anaemia poses a major public health issue leading to an increased risk of child mortality as well as the negative consequences of iron deficiency anaemia on cognitive and physical development.
Objectives: The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia among school children in Sabratha in Western Libya.
Methods: Stratified random sampling technique covering the four geographical zones of Sabratha was used. Sabratha area is divided into four geographical zones: first, second, third, and fourth. From each zone number of schools were randomly selected then a sample of children from each school was randomly chosen (males and females from each age group). A total sample of 711 school children from the selected schools aged (6-14) years constituted the subjects of the study. Venous blood was collected in tubes containing EDTA. Fresh blood was used for the estimation of hematological parameters (RBCs indices, Serum iron, and ferritin).
Results: Of the 711 screened school children 11.08% males and 12.90% females were anemic (Hb<12 g/dl). 9.67% females and 8.92% males were having Iron deficiency anaemia (Hb<12 g/dl & serum ferritin<15 ng/ml). A significant correlation was found between serum iron and serum ferritin in iron-deficient anaemic children (r-0.99).
Conclusion: It can be concluded that anaemia occurs in all Sabratha area and though at significantly variable prevalence. The first zone population has the highest frequency of anemia and Iron deficiency followed by the second. In all zones, males in the age group (6-7) years and females in the age group (11-14) years were significantly more susceptible to develop anaemia and iron deficiency. Interventional health education programs should be conducted in schools to highlight the risk factors of anemia as well as to encourage the intake of miscellaneous diets which include iron-rich foods and fruits that contain vitamin C that enhances iron absorption.
Keywords: Iron deficiency, Iron deficiency anaemia, School children, Ferritin, Sabratha, Western Libya.