Inflammation, chronic diseases and ageing in a developing country context: evidence from biomarker data collection in Malawi

Iliana V. Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Philip A. Anglewicz, University of Pennsylvania
Beth J. Soldo, University of Pennsylvania

Virtually no large-scale socioeconomic survey data exist in sub-Saharan Africa that provides a comprehensive biomarker-based assessment of respondents’ health. We present the first analysis of newly collected biomarker-based health indicators from rural Malawi that have been integrated into the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH). Our data includes the following biomarkers: wrhs-CRP, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, circulating glucose, urea, albumin, creatinine, total protein, and uric acid. For the first time in a sub-Saharan African context, we are able to assess adult health using indicators of activity in three biologic systems: immune, metabolic, and renal/clearance. Specifically, we analyze the variation of these biomarkers by demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral indicators. Our analyses reveal fairly low levels of the biomarkers (e.g., CRP and HDL) compared to observations in western industrialized countries and suggest that the use of Western standards for biomarkers’ levels in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa may be questionable.

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Presented in Session 57: Incorporating biological indicators in demographic studies