OBJECTIVES. The purpose of this work was to use the comprehensive computerized database of Clalit Health Services to analyze the prevalence and contributing factors of anemia among the population of Clalit Health Services-insured Israeli infants aged 9 to 18 months, characterized by ethnic sector.

METHODS. This was a cross-sectional retrospective study for the year 2003 using the computerized database of Clalit Health Services for 34512 infants aged 9 to 18 months insured by the Clalit Health Services sick fund. Children with abnormal white blood counts at the time of the hemoglobin test and with chronic diseases were excluded. The data were analyzed for age, infant hemoglobin level, ethnic origin, district distribution, type of clinic where the infant received treatment, the number of iron prescriptions dispensed to each child, and the mother's last hemoglobin level before giving birth. Anemia was defined as a hemoglobin level <105 g/L.

RESULTS. The prevalence of anemia among Israeli infants is 15.5%. The prevalence is significantly higher in the non-Jewish population (22.5%) as compared with the Jewish population (10.5%). The lowest prevalence of anemia was found in pediatric health centers (10.7%). A significant correlation was found between the presence of anemia in infants and the presence of anemia found in their mothers. Infants with anemia used significantly less iron preparations.

CONCLUSIONS. This study is one of the first studies to use a comprehensive computerized database to perform a population-based analysis of anemic infants. We found a considerable percentage of infants to be anemic and identified a specific population to be at high risk for anemia. We describe 2 factors that have the potential to be altered through intervention: improving compliance of iron intake and maternal anemia. Major national efforts should be made to minimize the prevalence of anemia, especially in the non-Jewish population, and to learn more about the causes of iron-deficiency anemia in this group. This study provides a base for an intervention study.

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