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Exposure to the Chinese famine in early life and the risk of anaemia in adulthood

01 Oct 2013

Background:
Famine exposure during the early stage of life is related to a number of adulthood diseases. The objective of this study was to examine the association of early life exposure to the famine in China (1959--1961) with the risk of anaemia in adulthood.
Methods:
We used the data of 2007 adults born between 1954 and 1964 in Jiangsu province from the 2002 Chinese National Nutrition and Health Survey. Anaemia was defined as haemoglobin concentration <12 g/dl in women and <13 g/dl in men.
Results:
Prevalence of anaemia in adulthood in nonexposed, fetal-exposed, early-childhood, mid-childhood, and late-childhood exposed to famine groups were 26.0%, 33.8%, 28.1%, 28.2% and 29.7%, respectively. Overall, fetal-exposed to famine was associated with 37% increased risk of anaemia as compared with those non-exposed after adjusting for income, education, place of residence, smoking, alcohol drinking, job, hypertension and BMI; relative risk (95% confidence interval) (RR (95% CI)) was 1.37 (1.09, 1.71). In general, this association appeared to be stronger among men, those who were currently overweight or obese, or those of lower educational levels. Corresponding RR (95% CI) was 1.87 (1.21-2.87), 1.75 (1.20-2.56), and 2.07 (1.37-3.12), respectively.
Conclusion:
Fetal exposure to the Chinese famine was associated with an increased risk of anaemia in adulthood.

Date: 
1 October 2013

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