[Effect of iron supplementation among pregnant women at mother-and-baby clinic of Sidi Bel Abbès, West Algeria].Sante 2004 Jan-Mar; 14(1):21-9S
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutritional disorder worldwide, especially in developing countries. It occurs when iron absorption does not equal iron requirements plus iron loss. Because iron requirements are especially high in pregnant women, infants, young children, and adolescents, these groups run a high risk of iron-deficiency anemia. In this controlled prospective and longitudinal study of 83 pregnant women, we explored the correlations between various epidemiological characteristics and the onset of anemia. We also looked at the effect of iron supplementation on the hematological parameters among pregnant women with anemia. Blood counts during the first trimester of pregnancy (3 months +/- 2 weeks' gestation) revealed that 31 of the 83 subjects (37.3%) women had anemia (Hb < 11 g/100 ml): 16 moderate (7 g/dl < or = Hb < 10 g/dl) and 15 mild (10 g/dl < or = Hb < 11 g/dl). We detected no cases of severe anemia in our study. Nor did we find a clear correlation between anemia and such factors as age (r = 0.09), number of pregnancies (r = - 0.30), interval between pregnancies (r = 0.03), or number of abortions (r = - 0.18). Nonetheless, iron supplementation of 30 mg/day, prescribed for four months for all the women with anemia (n = 31), improved some of these hematological parameters, increasing hemoglobin and serum iron levels in particular. These two parameters were strongly positively correlated (r = 0.89). We also noted that the red blood cell count (RBC) and the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) both increased significantly (p < 0.05) among the anemic women receiving iron supplements. The prevalence of anemia fell from 34.1% in the first trimester, before supplementation, to 6.3% in the third trimester. This finding suggests that the supplementation prevented the fall in hemoglobin and serum iron that occurred among the women without anemia. We think that iron supplementation is a good strategy for treating and preventing anemia during pregnancy.