Folate deficiency is associated with nutritional anaemia in Lebanese women of childbearing age

Lynn Al Khatib, Omar Obeid, Abla-Mehio Sibai, Malek Batal, Nada Adra, Nahla Hwalla
Public Health Nutrition 2006, 9 (7): 921-7

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to identify the determinants of anaemia in Lebanese women of childbearing age attending health centres in Lebanon.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study carried out between May and December 2003. Anthropometric measurements as well as sociodemographic, health and dietary intake data were collected using a questionnaire. Haemoglobin (Hb), plasma ferritin, plasma folate and vitamin B12 were assessed using standard laboratory methods.

SETTING: Governmental health centres in Lebanon.

SUBJECTS: Four hundred and seventy non-pregnant Lebanese women aged 15-45 years.

RESULTS: Anaemia (Hb <12 g dl(-1)) and iron deficiency (ferritin <15 microg l(-1)) were prevalent in 16.0 and 27.2% of the study sample, respectively. Of the total sample, 7.7% had iron-deficiency anaemia. The percentage of women with either Hb or ferritin deficiency or both was 35.6%. Plasma folate and vitamin B12 deficiency was reported in 25.1 and 39.4%, respectively, and 12.6% of the women had both folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Of the anaemic group, 48.0% of the women had iron deficiency. The intake of iron was lower in iron-deficient than in non-deficient women and a positive relationship was shown between folate intake and its corresponding serum levels. Regression analysis showed that ferritin, plasma folate and family history of anaemia were significant determinants of the anaemia in the sample of women.

CONCLUSIONS: Anaemia not related to iron deficiency was partly explained by plasma folate deficiency. Measures to control folate and iron deficiency should be considered.

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