Anemia and Feeding Practices among Infants in Rural Shaanxi Province in China


Anemia is one of the most prevalent public health problems among infants and iron deficiency anemia has been related to many adverse consequences. The overall goal of this study is to examine the prevalence of anemia among infants in poor rural China and to identify correlates of anemia. In April 2013, we randomly sampled 948 infants aged 6– 11 months living in 351 villages across 174 townships in nationally-designated poverty counties in rural areas of southern Shaanxi Province, China. Infants were administered a finger prick blood test for hemoglobin (Hb). Anthropometric measurement and household survey of demographic characteristics and feeding practices were conducted in the survey. We found that 54.3% of 6– 11 month old infants in poor rural China are anemic, and 24.3% of sample infants suffer from moderate or severe anemia. We find that children still breastfed over 6 months of age had lower Hb concentrations and higher anemia prevalence than their non-breastfeeding counterparts (p < 0.01), and that children who had ever been formula-fed had significantly higher Hb concentrations and lower anemia prevalence than their non-formula-fed counterparts (p < 0.01). The results suggest the importance of iron supplementation or home fortification while breastfeeding.