Background: Preventing infantile anaemia and ensuring optimal growth and development during early childhood, particularly in resource-constrained settings, represent an ongoing public health challenge. Current responses are aligned to treatment-based solutions, instead of determining the roles of its inter-related causes. This project aims to assess and understand the complex interplay of eco-bio-social-political factors that determine infantile anaemia to inform policy, research design and prevention practices.
Methods: This is a longitudinal birth cohort study including four components: (1) biological, will assess known blood markers of iron homeostasis and anaemia and stool microbiota to identify and genetically analyse the participants' flora; (2) ecological, will assess and map pollutants in air, water and soil and evaluate features of nutrition and perceived food security; (3) social, which will use different qualitative research methodologies to explore key stakeholders and informants' perceptions related to nutritional, environmental and anaemia topics, participant observations and a participatory approach and (4) a political analysis, to identify and assess the impact of policies, guidelines and programmes at all levels for infantile anaemia in the three regions. Finally, we will also explore the role of social determinants and demographic variables longitudinally for all study participants. This project aims to contribute to the evidence of the inter-related causal factors of infantile anaemia, addressing the complexity of influencing factors from diverse methodological angles. We will assess infantile anaemia in three regions of Peru, including newborns and their mothers as participants, from childbirth until their first year of age.
Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval was obtained from the Institutional Research Ethics Committee of the Instituto Nacional de Salud del Niño (Lima, Peru), CIEI-043-2019. An additional opinion has been granted by the Ethical Committee of Queen Mary University of London (London, UK). Dissemination across stakeholders is taking part as a continues part of the research process.