Does antenatal care attendance prevent anemia in pregnancy at term?
Background: Anemia in pregnancy is one of the public health problems in the developed and developing world. If uncontrolled it is a major indirect cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. This is worst in settings with poor prenatal practices. Quality prenatal interventions therefore are expected to prevent or ameliorate this disorder in pregnancy. Nigerian scientific literatures are full of data on anemia in pregnancy, but few of them are on the influence of prenatal care on maternal anemia. This study, therefore, sought to appraise the role of antenatal care (ANC) services in the prevention of anemia in pregnancy at term in Nigerian women.
Objectives: The aim was to estimate the prevalence of anemia at first antenatal visit and determine if antenatal attendance prevents anemia at term among prenatal Nigerian women. To measure the hematocrit levels at booking and at term respectively and compare the proportion anemic at booking with the proportion anemic at term.
Materials and Methods: A retrospective cross‑sectional comparative study of 3442 prenatal women in a mission hospital in South‑South Nigeria from 2009 to 2013. Venous blood hematocrit was estimated from each woman at booking and at term, and the prevalence of anemia for the two periods were compared.
Results: There were 1205 subjects with hematocrit of below 33% at booking, an anemia prevalence of 32.2% at booking in this population. At term or delivery at term 736 (21.4% odds ratio [OR] =2.3, P < 0.0001) of the 1052 subjects that fulfilled the study criteria had their anemia corrected, a 69.9% prevention, while 316 (9.2%, OR = 0.43, P < 0.0001) persisted despite their antenatal attendance. The subjects were similar in most of the confounding factors like parity, social class, mean age, body mass index and gestational age at delivery (P value: all > 0.05).
Conclusion: The prevalence of anemia in pregnancy is still high in our setting. Quality ANC appeared a valuable preventive intervention that should be made widely available, accessible and affordable to all pregnant women.
Key words: Antenatal care, anemia prevention, South‑South Nigeria, term pregnancy