Anemia, a leading health issue affecting mothers globally, is generally prevalent among agropastoral populations. Previous research has been inconclusive regarding maternal age as a risk factor of anemia. Drawing on the models that recognize the important interaction between age and wealth, (Age-as-Leveler (AGL) and Cumulative Advantage/Disadvantage (CAD)) we evaluated whether age was a predictor for anemia and whether the effect of age depended on socioeconomic status (SES) among sedentary Ariaal agropastoralists in northern Kenya. Using archival data from 234 breastfeeding mothers, we created logistic regression models to estimate the relative importance of risk factors for mothers developing anemia. Our results suggest that in this ecological context, young mothers may have an increased risk of anemia if poor, while older mothers may have a lower risk regardless of SES. The observed pattern may be due to age-based differences in labor requirements or amount of help received for subsistence/household activities, and to attenuated SES-health associations owing to pervasive food sharing.
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Preliminary findings from this study have been presented at MSU undergraduate Research and Arts Forum and at a conference (Bignall et al. 2019). Amelia Odo provided helpful comments on this manuscript.
The Provost Undergraduate Research Initiative from the College of Social Science at Michigan State University supported E.B. through this research. This work was supported by National Science Foundation (M.F., grant numbers BCS 0622358, BCS 1638167) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (M.F., grant numbers 7460, 9278). A National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship supported N.P.R. during a portion of the research and writing of this article.
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Paredes Ruvalcaba, N., Bignall, E. & Fujita, M. Age and Socioeconomic Status in Relation to Risk of Maternal Anemia among the Ariaal Agropastoralists of Northern Kenya. Hum Ecol 48, 47–54 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-020-00129-5
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Non-iron deficiency anemia
- Age-as-leveler model
- Cumulative advantage/disadvantage model
- Mother’s age
- Mother’s socioeconomic status
- Northern Kenya