ANAEMIA: THE NEGLECTED FEMALE HEALTH PROBLEM IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

Ghazala saimasaad2010@yahoo.com Nazir, Saima Naz, Shafqut Ali, Shaheen Aziz, Shakeel Ahmad Malik, Iftikhar Hossain Qari, Samia Irum

Abstract


Background: Anaemia is arguably the biggest female health problems in developing countries. The
world is still to fully fathom the extent and gravity of the problem. This problem aggravates particularly
during and after pregnancies due to increased nutritional demands and inadequate iron supply and is
therefore more widespread in parous segments of female population. Objective of this study was to
determine prevalence of anaemia in apparently healthy parous female population of Abbottabad and
investigate underlying causes. Methods: This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted from
October 2001 to March 2011 in Abbottabad. Women reporting for various surgical procedures were
investigated for anaemia by obtaining history through a structured performa, specifically designed to
identify the underlying causes. Sixteen thousand women of child bearing age (20–40 years) were
included in the study; 14,800 with history of at least one pregnancy and remaining with no previous
pregnancy. Haemoglobin (Hb) was measured using haematology analyser Sysmex (KX21). Results:
Of the screened women, 60% were found anaemic (Hb <12 g/dl) 10% of which were severely anaemic
(Hb <6 g/dl). Anaemia was related to socio-demographic and obstetric history characteristics. The
prevalence of anaemia was significantly lower in women who used iron supplements during their
pregnancies. Lactating mothers not making up for the iron deficiencies during pregnancies usually
carried their anaemia postpartum and beyond. Lower gaps between pregnancies also contributed
significantly to the problem. Conclusion: Prevalence and severity of anaemia in reproductive age
females reporting to surgical units were found to be exceptionally high. Frequency of anaemia in the
parous females of relatively affluent city of Abbotabad indicates that anaemia may be on the rise in
developing countries. Addressing pregnancy related anaemia and nutritional deficiencies through intake
of supplements on regular basis in women before and between pregnancies is essential.
Keywords: Anaemia, Reproductive age, nutritional deficiency, parous, Lactation

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