The burden and consequences of inherited blood disorders among young children in western Kenya

Suchdev PS, Ruth LJ, Earley M, Macharia A, Williams TN
Matern Child Nutr. 2014;10

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Although inherited blood disorders are common among children in many parts of Africa, limited data are available about their prevalence or contribution to childhood anaemia. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 858 children aged 6-35 months who were randomly selected from 60 villages in western Kenya. Haemoglobin (Hb), ferritin, malaria, C-reactive protein (CRP) and retinol binding protein (RBP) were measured from capillary blood. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Hb type, -3.7 kb alpha-globin chain deletion, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) genotype and haptoglobin (Hp) genotype were determined. More than 2 out of 3 children had at least one measured blood disorder. Sickle cell trait (HbAS) and disease (HbSS) were found in 17.1% and 1.6% of children, respectively; 38.5% were heterozygotes and 9.6% were homozygotes for alpha(+) -thalassaemia. The Hp 2-2 genotype was found in 20.4% of children, whereas 8.2% of males and 6.8% of children overall had G6PD deficiency. There were no significant differences in the distribution of malaria by the measured blood disorders, except among males with G6PD deficiency who had a lower prevalence of clinical malaria than males of normal G6PD genotype (P = 0.005). After excluding children with malaria parasitaemia, inflammation (CRP > 5 mg L(-1) ), iron deficiency (ferritin < 12 mug L(-1) ) or vitamin A deficiency (RBP < 0.7 mug L(-1) ), the prevalence of anaemia among those without alpha(+) -thalassaemia (43.0%) remained significantly lower than that among children who were either heterozygotes (53.5%) or homozygotes (67.7%, P = 0.03). Inherited blood disorders are common among pre-school children in western Kenya and are important contributors to anaemia.