Hematocrit, anemia, and arm preference for blood sample collection: a cross sectional study of pregnant women in Enugu, south eastern, Nigeria
Background: Anemia in pregnancy is a common cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in developing countries. Regular review of hematocrit (HCT) and anemia patterns in pregnancy is necessary in our environment.
Aim: The aim was to determine the average HCT, prevalence, and pattern of anemia, as well the arm preferences for blood sample collection among pregnant women in Enugu, South East Nigeria.
Subjects and Methods: HCT was determined using venous blood of 200 antenatal women at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, Nigeria. Questionnaires were used to assess participants’ arm preference for blood sample collection for clinical investigations. Data analysis was descriptive and inferential at 95% confidence level.
Results: Participants’ mean HCT was 33.3 (3.7%). The average HCT in second trimester 33.3% (3.76%) was significantly lower than that of third trimester (34.6 [3.4%], P = 0.01,). Prevalence of anemia was 28.0% (56/200), and a majority (94.6%, 53/56) of anemic women belong to the mild category. Only parity groups had a significant association with anemia in pregnancy (P = 0.04). None of the participants reported being asked about her arm preference during blood collection for routine antenatal investigations. One hundred and five (52.5%) women expressed preference for either left (34.5%, 69/200) or right arm (18.0%, 36/200) for blood sample collection.
Conclusion: The average HCT among pregnant women at the UNTH, Enugu Nigeria was within normal range and the prevalence of anemia was relatively low. The majority of women expressed a preference for either right or left arm for blood sample collection for clinical investigations and would wish their choices sought for and respected.
Keywords: Anemia in pregnancy, Arm preference, Enugu, Hematocrit, Nigeria