Objective This study sought to examine the association between high-risk fertility behaviour and childhood anaemia in sub-Saharan Africa .
Design An analytical study was conducted using cross-sectional data from mothers with children under age 5 (n=64 512) from 28 sub-Saharan African countries. Multilevel logistic regression models were fitted to examine the association between high-risk fertility behaviour and childhood anaemia. The results were presented using adjusted odds ratios (aORs) with 95% confidence interval (CI).
Setting Twenty-eight sub-Saharan African countries.
Outcome measure Childhood anaemia.
Results The percentage of children with anaemia in the 28 countries was 66.7%. We found that age more than 34 at delivery and short birth interval had significant associations with childhood anaemia. Children of mothers whose most recent delivery occurred after 34 years were less likely to be anaemic compared with those whose most recent delivery occurred before age 34 (aOR=0.89; 95% CI 0.83 to 0.95). We found that children born to mothers with short birth intervals were more likely to be anaemic, compared with those with long birth intervals (aOR=1.08; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.16).
Conclusions We, therefore, draw the attention of policy makers and programme implementers to invest in policies and programmes aimed at combating childhood anaemia in sub-Saharan Africa to focus on the population at risk, that is, women whose most recent delivery occurred at younger ages and those with short birth intervals. Encouraging contraceptive use and creating awareness about the importance of birth spacing among reproductive-age women would be more helpful.
Bibliographical noteWe acknowledge the Demographic Health Surveys for providing us with the data upon which the findings of this study were based.
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