Association of sickle cell disease with anthropometric indices among under-five children: evidence from 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey

Mohammad Redwanul Islam, Mohammed Moinuddin, Ayeda Ahmed, Syed Moshfiqur Rahman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

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Background: Malnutrition continues to affect under-five children in Africa to an overwhelming proportion. The situation is further compounded by the burden of sickle cell disease (SCD). However, association of SCD with stunting, wasting, and underweight in a nationally representative sample of under-five children remains unexplored. We aimed to describe prevalence of undernutrition by sickle cell status, to evaluate its association with growth faltering ascertained by anthropometric indices, and to explore mediating role of hemoglobin.
Methods: We availed data from the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the sample comprised 11,233 children aged 6–59 months who were successfully genotyped for SCD. The DHS employed a two-stage, stratified sampling strategy. SickleSCAN rapid diagnostic test was used for SCD genotyping. Z-scores of length/height-for-age (HAZ), weight-for-height (WHZ), and weight-for-age (WAZ) were computed against the 2006 World Health Organization Child Growth Standards. We fitted logistic regression models to evaluate association of SCD with stunting, wasting, and underweight. Mediation analysis was performed to capture the indirect effect of and proportion of total effect mediated through hemoglobin level in SCD-anthropometric indices association.
Results: Prevalences of stunting, wasting, and underweight among children with SCD were 55.4% (54.5–56.4), 9.1% (8.6–9.7), and 38.9% (38.0–39.8), respectively. The odds of stunting were 2.39 times higher (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.39, 95% CI 1.26–4.54) among sickle children than those with normal hemoglobin. SCD was also significantly associated withunderweight (aOR 2.64, 95% CI 1.25–5.98), but not with wasting (aOR 1.60, 95% CI 0.85–3.02). Association of SCD with all three anthropometric indices was significantly mediated through hemoglobin level: for SCD-HAZ, the adjusted indirect effect
(aIE) was − 0.328 (95% CI − 0.387, − 0.270); for SCD-WHZ, the aIE was − 0.080 (95% CI − 0.114, − 0.050); and for SCD-WAZ, the aIE was − 0.245 (95% CI − 0.291, − 0.200).
Conclusion: We presented compelling evidence of the negative impact of SCD on anthropometric indices of nutritional status of under-five children. Integration of a nutrition-oriented approach into a definitive SCD care package and its nationwide implementation could bring promising results by mitigating the nutritional vulnerability of children with SCD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medicine
Early online date15 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021


  • sickle cell disease (SCD)
  • nutritional status
  • Anthropometric indices
  • under-five children
  • stunting
  • hemoglobin
  • mediation


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