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Prevalence of Anaemia in Pregnant & Lactating Women in India
Authors: K N Agarwal, D K Agarwal, A Sharma, K Sharma, K Prasad, M C Kalita, N Khetarpaul, A C Kapoor, L Vijayalekshmi, A K Govilla, S M Panda, and P Kumari
Source: Indian Journal of Medical Research, 124(2): 173-84
Topic(s): Anemia
Antenatal care
Iron supplements
Maternal health
Women's health
Country: Asia
Published: AUG 2006
Abstract: Background & objectives: The prevalence of anaemia during pregnancy and lactation was significantly lower in the National Family Health Survey 1998-1999 (NFHS-2), using the hemocue method for haemoglobin estimation compared to earlier surveys. The present study selected seven States and used the same districts and villages studied in the NFHS-2, to see if the reported reduction in prevalence of anaemia was due to health and nutrition inputs and/or due to a different method for haemoglobin estimation. Methods: A total of 1,751 women (1,148 pregnant and 603 lactating- exclusively breastfeeding up to 3 months of age), from seven States- Himachal Pradesh and Haryana in north; Assam and Orissa in east; Kerala and Tamil Nadu in south and Madhya Pradesh in central India, were selected. Haemoglobin was estimated by the cyanmethaemoglobin method, so that comparison was possible with earlier studies. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, pregnancy, nutritional status and dietary intakes were collected. Results: Prevalence as well as severity of anaemia was significantly higher in the present study as compared to the NFHS-2 study data. The difference could be due to haemocue method, which gives higher haemoglobin values. The contributing factors found on multiple regression analysis for anaemia in pregnancy and lactation were: literacy, occupation and standard living index of the study women; their awareness about anaemia, its prevention by regular consumption of ironfolate tablets and increase in food intake. Maternal height, age of marriage, parity and foetal loss also contributed to haemoglobin level. There were interstate differences; lower fertility, higher literacy and better diet was observed in Himachal Pradesh as compared to Haryana. The literacy and nutritional status of women in Tamil Nadu was lower than Kerala. The remaining 3 states had poor fertility, lower social living index and nutritional status with >90 per cent women being anaemic in pregnancy and lactation. Low prevalence of severe anaemia in Orissa as compared to Assam was due to availability and consumption of iron folate tablets. The antenatal services in the first trimester and checkup by a doctor, along with availability and consumption of iron folate tablets over 3 months in all the States influenced haemoglobin levels. Interpretation & conclusion: Despite the measures taken to control anaemia in pregnancy and lactation in the last two decades, the severity of nutritional anaemia continues to remain a public health issue of great magnitude, suggesting that these measures have been largely ineffective. The present findings also showed interstate differences particularly in fertility, women education, nutrition status and occupation; availability of antenatal services and iron folate tablets as possible factors responsible for differences in prevalence of anaemia.