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.
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.
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.