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Decreased Anemia Prevalence Among Women and Children in Rural Baja California, Mexico: A 6-Year Comparative Study.

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Anemia is a public health problem in Mexico. This study sought to determine the prevalence and correlates of anemia among women and children residing in a rural farming region of Baja California, Mexico. An existing partnership between universities, non-governmental organizations, and an underserved Mexican community was utilized to perform cross-sectional data collection in 2004-2005 (Wave 1) and in 2011-2012 (Wave 2) among women (15-49 years) and their children (6-59 months). All participants completed a survey and underwent anemia testing. Blood smears were obtained to identify etiology. Nutrition education interventions and clinical health evaluations were offered between waves. Participants included 201 women and 99 children in Wave 1, and 146 women and 77 children in Wave 2. Prevalence of anemia significantly decreased from 42.3 to 23.3 % between Waves 1 and 2 in women (p < 0.001), from 46.5 to 30.2 % in children 24-59 months (p = 0.066), and from 71.4 to 45.8 % in children 6-23 months (p = 0.061). Among women in Wave 1, consumption of iron absorption enhancing foods (green vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C) was protective against anemia (p = 0.043). Women in Wave 2 who ate ≥4 servings of green, leafy vegetables per week were less likely to be anemic (p = 0.034). Microscopic examination of blood smears revealed microcytic, hypochromic red blood cells in 90 % of anemic children and 68.8 % of anemic women, consistent with iron deficiency anemia.

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