Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

Publication Date




Anemia, which has many etiologies, is a moderate/severe public health problem in young children and women of reproductive age in many developing countries. The aim of this study was to investigate prevalence of iron deficiency, anemia, and iron deficiency anemia using multiple biomarkers and to evaluate their association with food insecurity and food consumption patterns in non-pregnant women from a rural area of southern Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in 202 rural women of reproductive age in southern

Ethiopia. Anthropometrics and socio-demographic data were collected. A venipuncture blood sample was analyzed for hemoglobin (Hb) and for biomarkers of iron status. Biomarkers were skewed and were log transformed before analysis. Mean, median, Pearson's correlations and ordinary least-squares regressions were calculated.


Median (IQR) Hb was 138 (127, 151) g/L. Based on an altitude-adjusted (1708 m) cutoff of 125 g/L for Hb, 21.3% were anemic. Plasma ferritin was <15 μg/L in 18.6% of the women. Only one woman had α-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) >1.0 g/L; four women (2%) had > 5 mg/L of C-reactive protein (CRP). Of the 43 women who were anemic, 23.3% (10 women) had depleted iron stores based on plasma ferritin. Three of these had elevated soluble transferring receptors (sTfR). Hemoglobin (Hb) concentration was negatively correlated with sTfR (r = -0.24, p = 0.001), and positively correlated with ferritin (r = 0.17, p = 0.018), plasma iron (r = 0.15, p = 0.046), transferrin saturation (TfS) (r = 0.15, p = 0.04) and body iron (r = 0.14, p = 0.05). Overall prevalence of iron deficiency anemia was only 5%.


Iron deficiency anemia was not prevalent in the study population, despite the fact that anemia would be classified as a moderate public health problem.


This article was originally published Open Access in PLoS One. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


PLoS One

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© 2017 Gebreegziabher, Stoecker