AUA Alumna Monica Steffi Thomas (MPH ‘17) Published in Frontiers in Public Health Journal

The American University of Armenia (AUA) is proud to share that Turpanjian School of Public Health alumna Monica Steffi Thomas, MD, MPH ‘17, has published her MPH thesis. The article “How Effective is Iron Supplementation during Pregnancy and Childhood in Reducing Anemia Among 6–59 Months Old Children in India?” has appeared in the Children and Health section of Frontiers in Public Health, an open-access journal that publishes high-quality research from a wide range of disciplines after completing a rigorous peer-review process. The study identifies predictors of anemia among children in India, and evaluates its iron supplementation program using the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 data on 145,904 eligible children. The research uses multivariate logistic regression analysis to identify the adjusted associations between a child’s anemia status and iron supplementation, both during pregnancy and childhood. The co-authors of the article are Thomas’ MPH thesis advisors Vahe Khachadourian, PhD, MPH ‘11, and Anahit Demirchyan, MD, MPH ‘99.

The study has found that iron and folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is associated with a 10% lower chance of children having anemia, whereas supplementation during childhood is not associated with a child’s anemia status. This points to the need for further research on ways to improve the effectiveness of the child supplementation program in order to further reduce rates of childhood anemia in India. Moreover, the study identifies a number of characteristics independently associated with anemia in childhood, including child’s younger age, recent diarrhea, low birth weight, current underweight, diet diversity score, higher birth order, mother’s current anemia, months of breastfeeding, low education, as well as family’s low wealth index and backward caste. Based on these findings, the study delineates the vulnerable groups of children to be targeted first with anemia reduction interventions.

 In 2017, Monica Steffi Thomas presented her thesis study in the ASPHER (Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region) Young Researchers Forum in Stockholm, Sweden. She received a 1,000 EUR award for best oral presentation. Currently, Thomas works as a Program Officer in Jhpiego (an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University) in Durg, Chhattisgarh, India.

The AUA Turpanjian School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and beyond through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.