Economic growth has brought improvements in many areas of child health, but its effects on anaemia among school-aged children remain unknown. However, this is important because iron deficiency anaemia is common and is the main cause of disability-adjusted life years for school-aged children. In this study, we included 429,222 Chinese children aged 7–17 years from five consecutive national cross-sectional surveys during 1995–2014. Using altitude-adjusted haemoglobin concentration measured from capillary blood samples, we defined anaemia status according to World Health Organization's recommendation. We used logistic regressions weighted by provincial population to examine the association between provincial gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and anaemia, adjusting for sex, age, urban–rural location, regional socio-economic status (SES), fixed effect of province, and clustering of schools. We used generalised additive mixed models to evaluate a potentially non-linear relationship. For each 100% growth in GDP per capita, there was a 40% (odds ratio [OR] = 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI; 0.56, 0.65]) reduction in anaemia. However, the association was weaker for girls and in cities with a lower SES. The association was weaker across 2005–2014 (OR = 0.75, 95% CI [0.62, 0.90]) compared with 1995–2005 (OR = 0.52; 95% CI [0.44, 0.61]), reflecting a weaker association when GDP per capita reaches around $2,000. The results were similar for moderate-to-severe anaemia. We concluded that economic growth has been associated with reductions in anaemia among school-aged children in China but with fewer benefits for girls and those in poorer settings. Further economic development in China is unlikely to bring similar reductions in anaemia, suggesting that additional population level and targeted interventions will be needed.

adolescent, anaemia, child, China, economic development, gross domestic product, haemoglobin,
Maternal and Child Nutrition
Department of Public Health

Luo, D. (Dongmei), Xu, R. (Rongbin), Ma, J. (Jun), Yan, X. (Xiaojin), Hu, P. (Peijin), Song, Y. (Yi), … Patton, G.C. (2020). The associations of economic growth and anaemia for school-aged children in China. Maternal and Child Nutrition. doi:10.1111/mcn.12936