Iron status of premenopausal women in two regions of Bangladesh: prevalence of deficiency in high and low socio-economic groups

M Z Islam, C Lamberg-Allardt, M A Bhuyan, Q Salamatullah
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001, 55 (7): 598-604

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to assess iron status in women of different physiological status of two socio-economic groups in Bangladesh.

DESIGN: Cross sectional study, using 3-day food record and blood haemoglobin, serum iron, serum ferritin concentrations.

SETTING: Two regions of Bangladesh. The Dhaka city area and west region of Nandail, Mymensingh.

SUBJECTS: Women aged 16-40 y. The low socio-economic group (group L, n=101) consisted of rural women with precarious income levels. The high socio-economic group (group H, n=90) consisted of women with high income and educational levels. The groups were composed of three sub-groups (non-pregnant non-lactating=1, pregnant = 2 and lactating = 3).

RESULTS: There was no significant difference between the corresponding sub-groups of the two socio-economic groups in dietary intake of iron. In all sub-groups, the intake of iron was much higher than the RDA level and mainly based on non-haem iron. Blood haemoglobin (B-Hb) concentration (P=0.000), serum iron concentration (P=0.005) and serum ferritin (SF) concentration (P=0.000) were affected by socio-economic status. Physiological status (PS) influenced the B-Hb concentration (P=0.000). Prevalence of anaemia ranged from 63 to 70% in group L and 27 to 66% in group H, respectively. The prevalence of empty iron store (SF concentration<12 microg/l) ranged from 35 to 59% in group L and 15 to 32% in group H, respectively. The prevalence of anaemia and iron deficiency (70 and 35% for sub-group L2; 66 and 32% for sub-group H2, respectively) were similar in the pregnant subjects of the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Subclinical iron deficiency was common in women of low socio-economic status. The pregnant subjects in the two groups was similar as regards iron status.

SPONSORSHIP: The study was supported by the Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki and NorFa, Norway.

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