South African Medical Journal

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Prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy in a regional health facility in South Africa

K Tunkyi, J Moodley


Background. Anaemia is a major global health problem affecting an estimated 42% of pregnant women worldwide. There is a paucity of South African (SA) data on anaemia in pregnancy, despite the fact that parasitic infections are endemic and the nutritional status of sections of the population is poor.

Objective. To determine the prevalence of anaemia among antenatal attendees in a regional hospital in Durban, SA.

Methods. This was a cross-sectional prospective study in a regional health facility in an urban setting serving a population of low socioeconomic status. Venous blood samples to perform a full blood count were obtained from antenatal attendees at their first clinic visit.

Results. Two thousand pregnant women were studied; the mean (standard deviation) age and gestational age at booking was 27.6 (7.6) years and 21.7 (7.1) weeks, respectively. Eight hundred and fifty-four (42.7%) were anaemic (haemoglobin (Hb) levels <11 g/dL). The majority (81.4%) were mildly anaemic. There were five (0.6%) cases of severe anaemia (Hb <7 g/dL). The prevalence of anaemia was significantly higher in HIV-positive compared with HIV-negative pregnant women (71.3% v. 28.7%; p<0.0001). The common morphology was normochromic normocytic (n=588, 68.9%).

Conclusion. The prevalence of anaemia was 42.7%. In the majority (81.4%) the anaemia was mild and normocytic and normochromic (68.9%). Anaemia is a common problem among antenatal attendees in an SA urban population.
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