Prevalence of Inherited Hemoglobin Disorders and Relationships with Anemia and Micronutrient Status among Children in Yaoundé and Douala, Cameroon.
Engle-Stone R., Williams TN., Nankap M., Ndjebayi A., Gimou M-M., Oyono Y., Tarini A., Brown KH., Green R.
Information on the etiology of anemia is necessary to design effective anemia control programs. Our objective was to measure the prevalence of inherited hemoglobin disorders (IHD) in a representative sample of children in urban Cameroon, and examine the relationships between IHD and anemia. In a cluster survey of children 12-59 months of age (n = 291) in Yaoundé and Douala, we assessed hemoglobin (Hb), malaria infection, and plasma indicators of inflammation and micronutrient status. Hb S was detected by HPLC, and α⁺thalassemia (3.7 kb deletions) by PCR. Anemia (Hb < 110 g/L), inflammation, and malaria were present in 45%, 46%, and 8% of children. A total of 13.7% of children had HbAS, 1.6% had HbSS, and 30.6% and 3.1% had heterozygous and homozygous α⁺thalassemia. The prevalence of anemia was greater among HbAS compared to HbAA children (60.3 vs. 42.0%, p = 0.038), although mean Hb concentrations did not differ, p = 0.38). Hb and anemia prevalence did not differ among children with or without single gene deletion α⁺thalassemia. In multi-variable models, anemia was independently predicted by HbAS, HbSS, malaria, iron deficiency (ID; inflammation-adjusted ferritin <12 µg/L), higher C-reactive protein, lower plasma folate, and younger age. Elevated soluble transferrin receptor concentration (>8.3 mg/L) was associated with younger age, malaria, greater mean reticulocyte counts, inflammation, HbSS genotype, and ID. IHD are prevalent but contribute modestly to anemia among children in urban Cameroon.