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High burden of anemia among pregnant women in Tanzania: a call to address its determinants
Authors: Bruno F. Sunguya, Yue Ge, Linda Mlunde, Rose Mpembeni, Germana Leyna, and Jiayan Huang
Source: Nutrition Journal , Vol. 20, no. 1; DOI:
Topic(s): Anemia
Maternal health
Country: Africa
Published: JUL 2021
Abstract: Background Anemia in pregnancy is behind a significant burden of maternal mortality and poor birth outcomes globally. Efforts to address it need evidence on trends and its pertinent factors as they vary from one area to another. Methods We pooled data of 23,203 women of reproductive age whose hemoglobin levels were measured from two Tanzania Demographic and Health Surveys (TDHS). Of them, 2,194 women were pregnant. Analyses employed descriptive analyses to determine the burden of anemia, its characteristics, and severity; GIS mapping to determine the regional changes of anemia between 2005 and 2015; and logistic regression to determine the remaining determinants of anemia among pregnant women using Stata 15. Results The burden of anemia among pregnant women in Tanzania has remained unprecedently high, and varies between regions. There was no significant decline of anemia in general between the two periods after adjusting for individual, households, reproductive, and child characteristics [AOR = 0.964, 95% CI = 0.774–1.202, p = 0.747). Anemia is currently prevalent in 57% of pregnant women in Tanzania. The prevalence is more likely to be higher among women aged 15–19 years than those aged between 20–34 years. It is more likely to be prevalent among those within large families, with no formal education, food insecurity, lack of health insurance, had no antimalaria during pregnancy, and had low frequency of ANC attendance. On the other hand, delivery in a health facility may be potentially protective against anemia. Conclusions Anemia in pregnancy remained persistently high and prevalent among 57% of pregnant women in Tanzania. Efforts to address anemia are crucial and need to be focused in regions with increasing burden of anemia among pregnant women. It is imperative to address important risk factors such as food insecurity, strengthening universal health coverage, empowering women of reproductive age with education and especially nutritional knowledge and advocating for early antenatal booking, attendance, and facility delivery.