Serum iron and ferritin levels in pregnant Zimbabwean women

  • I Musiiwa
  • A Mandisodza
  • M.T. Manase
  • C Musarurwa


Background: In the human body, iron forms part of haemoglobin, myoglobin and enzymes such as cytochromes, catalase, succinic dehydrogenase and peroxidase. Diet is the major source of iron. Iron deficiency anaemia is a common outcome of nutritional iron deficiencies of pregnancy resulting in low birth weight babies and high morbidity and mortality rates. Serum ferritin has been reported to be the most useful and accurate measure of body iron stores particularly in the pregnancy state when the iron deficiency state may not be severe enough to produce microcytosis. There is limited data in Zimbabwe about iron status in pregnancy based on both iron and ferritin measurements.

Objective: To determine the iron status by gestational age of Zimbabwean women.

Materials and Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out by determining serum iron and ferritin concentrations on 96 pregnant women attending the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Antenatal Clinic during the month of February 2016 after receiving ethical approval.

Results: The median serum iron and ferritin concentrations were 18.0 μmol/l and 34.3 ng/ml respectively. Serum iron and ferritin decreased with increasing gestation from 21.5 to13.9 μmol/l and from 47.3 to 20.4 ng/ml respectively from the first to the third trimester. There was a strong relationship between low iron and ferritin concentration and having more than 3 children (p<0.05). Twenty-six percent and 15.7% of pregnant women had decreased serum iron and ferritin respectively.

Conclusion: Low serum iron and ferritin at second and third gestation were indicative of potential iron deficiency. Zimbabwean pregnant women are at high risk of developing iron deficiency anaemia.


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eISSN: 0008-9176