ANAEMIA: THE NEGLECTED FEMALE HEALTH PROBLEM IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
AbstractBackground: Anaemia is arguably the biggest female health problems in developing countries. Theworld is still to fully fathom the extent and gravity of the problem. This problem aggravates particularlyduring and after pregnancies due to increased nutritional demands and inadequate iron supply and istherefore more widespread in parous segments of female population. Objective of this study was todetermine prevalence of anaemia in apparently healthy parous female population of Abbottabad andinvestigate underlying causes. Methods: This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted fromOctober 2001 to March 2011 in Abbottabad. Women reporting for various surgical procedures wereinvestigated for anaemia by obtaining history through a structured performa, specifically designed toidentify the underlying causes. Sixteen thousand women of child bearing age (20–40 years) wereincluded in the study; 14,800 with history of at least one pregnancy and remaining with no previouspregnancy. 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. Theprevalence of anaemia was significantly lower in women who used iron supplements during theirpregnancies. Lactating mothers not making up for the iron deficiencies during pregnancies usuallycarried their anaemia postpartum and beyond. Lower gaps between pregnancies also contributedsignificantly to the problem. Conclusion: Prevalence and severity of anaemia in reproductive agefemales reporting to surgical units were found to be exceptionally high. Frequency of anaemia in theparous females of relatively affluent city of Abbotabad indicates that anaemia may be on the rise indeveloping countries. Addressing pregnancy related anaemia and nutritional deficiencies through intakeof supplements on regular basis in women before and between pregnancies is essential.Keywords: Anaemia, Reproductive age, nutritional deficiency, parous, Lactation
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