Anemia Study in Utah Could Have National Implications

Anemia Study in Utah Could Have National Implications

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Ed Yeates ReportingThe incidence of anemia in children at one Salt Lake clinic is extremely high. In fact, so much so, the National Medical Fellowships is funding a Utah based study that could have national implications.

Twenty-five percent of the babies treated at a Main Street clinic in Salt Lake are anemic. That's five times the national average.

Health care workers are concerned, since what's happening here is most likely a mirror image of what's happening in pockets of our population across the country.

Was Miguel Knochel at the University of Utah School of Medicine surprised?

MIGUEL KNOCHEL: "Oh sure I was surprised. It was a very high rate of anemia."

But Miguel is not surprised that what he's finding here with foreign born mothers and their babies is probably reflected in other areas throughout the country, pockets of our population where malnutrition is still an issue.

Miguel Knochel, U of U School of Medicine: "We think diet plays a role, the mother's diet, the baby's diet. Possibly the use of herbal medications. The ability of the mom to find food and have enough food for her family."

What happens within the walls of this clinic in Salt Lake City is significant because it will have a national impact. The data collected here can be applied in any area where poverty is an issue.

Carrie Byington, M.D., Pediatrics, University of Utah: "They don't have enough money to provide three meals a day. They may skip meals or they may give their food to their children rather than eat the foods themselves."

Traditional cooking utensils and pots from many countries have lead-based glazes on them and can leak into the food. That too can lead to anemia.

So, U of U researchers will interview expectant mothers and follow their children after birth. The goal is to find out why the anemia and then prevent it.

Byington: "Iron deficiency anemia -- the rates in this country should be zero."

The study is a partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department.

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