COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Anaemia and vitamin A deficiency in poor urban pregnant women of Bangladesh

Faruk Ahmed, Ismat Mahmuda, Abeda Sattar, Md Akhtaruzzaman
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003, 12 (4): 460-6
14672871
This cross-sectional study investigated the prevalence of anaemia and vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among pregnant women in a poor urban population of Bangladesh. It also examined the association of various socio-economic and dietary factors with anaemia and vitamin A status. A maternal and child health clinic in Dhaka city, Bangladesh was used to obtain the sample. Three hundred and eighty three pregnant women, aged 20-30 years, of 20-30 weeks gestation were randomly selected from women on their first presentation for antenatal care. Socio-economic, pregnancy related information, usual dietary pattern and anthropometric data were collected. Blood haemoglobin and serum retinol (vitamin A) concentrations were determined. About 40% of the pregnant women were anaemic (haemoglobin <11.0 g/dl) and 45% had low serum vitamin A levels (<30 microg/dl); with 8.6% having sub-clinical VAD (serum retinol <20 microg/dl). The women with low serum vitamin A levels had 1.8 times greater risk of being anaemic than did the women with normal vitamin A status. Food frequency data revealed that a large proportion of these women did not consume egg (49%), milk (25%), meat (31%), liver (83%), large fish (32%), small fish (39%) and sweet pumpkin (52%) at all; while about 25% of the women reported consuming dark green leafy vegetables (DGLV) and 64% reported an intake of fruit at least four servings a week. The pregnant women who were either illiterate or received only informal education (up to grade ten) had significantly lower haemoglobin and serum vitamin A levels compared to those who completed at least a secondary school certificate. The women whose husbands were illiterate or received only informal education had significantly (P= 0.01) lower serum vitamin A levels than those whose husbands had received at least a secondary school certificate. The women who came from families with a per-capita income below the poverty line had significantly lower haemoglobin and serum vitamin A levels compared to those who came from families with a per-capita income above the poverty line. The women who consumed three servings or less of DGLV and fruit per week had significantly lower haemoglobin and serum vitamin A levels than those who consumed four or more servings a week. The women who never consumed large fish had significantly lower haemoglobin compared to those who reported at least one serving a week. Furthermore, the women who never consumed sweet pumpkin had significantly lower serum vitamin A than the women who ate at least one serving a week. By multiple regression analysis, intake of meat, DGLV and fruit, and serum vitamin A levels were found to have a significant independent relationship with haemoglobin. The overall F-ratio (9.9) was highly significant (P=0.000), the adjusted R-square was 0.086 (multiple R=0.309). Multiple regression analysis for serum vitamin A also revealed a significant independent relationship with per capita income, haemoglobin levels, intakes of DGLV and sweet pumpkin. The overall F-ratio (10.2) was highly significant (P=0.000), the adjusted R-square was 0.10 (multiple R=0.312). In conclusion, anaemia and vitamin A deficiency were highly prevalent among poor urban pregnant women in Bangladesh. Various socio-economic and dietary factors may influence the anaemia and vitamin A status of these women. The present study emphasizes the need for a comprehensive intervention strategy, which include both nutritional and environmental factors, to improve the nutritional status of this population.

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