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Anaemia during pregnancy as a risk factor for iron-deficiency anaemia in infancy: a case-control study in Jordan

Anaemia during pregnancy as a risk factor for iron-deficiency anaemia in infancy: a case-control study in Jordan

International Journal of Epidemiology 28(3): 461-468

Background A high prevalence of 50-65% iron-deficiency anaemia in mothers and infants in Jordan was reported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 1990. Iron-deficiency in infancy has been shown to delay cognitive and psychomotor development with long-term consequences. While socioeconomic deprivation and inadequate nutrition are known underlying factors, it is unclear whether iron endowment at birth is compromised when mothers are anaemic, further jeopardizing iron status during infancy. A prospective case-control study of infants from birth to one year was conducted in a lower middle-class urban setting in Amman, Jordan. The study objective was to examine the relationship between maternal anaemia and iron-deficiency anaemia during infancy. Method A sample of 107 anaemic (Hb < 11 g/dl) and 125 non-anaemic mothers was selected at 37 weeks' gestation and matched for age and parity, and infant data at birth obtained. The infants were reviewed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months,to assess growth, current nutrition, infection rates and iron status. The main outcome measure was the incidence of iron-deficiency anaemia in the two groups of infants, defined in the study as Hb < 11 g/dl and either plasma ferritin < 12 mcg/l or zinc protoporphyrin > 35 mcg/dl. Results Iron endowment in cord blood samples appeared similar between the two groups. The incidence of iron-deficiency anaemia was very high in these infants, at 72% by research criteria, (51% if Hb < 10.5 g/dl), but significantly higher in the infants born to anaemic mothers at all stages of the year, with overall incidence of 81% (n = 91), compared to 65% in controls (n = 112). This was not explained by differences in environmental risk factors. Anaemic mothers had not recovered adequate iron status at 6 months' postpartum, with implications for future pregnancy iron demands. Conclusions Anaemia during pregnancy compromises the health of mothers in traditional cultures, where women tend to have severalchildren close together after marriage, with an inadequate interval to replenish nutritional stores. Their infants also appear to be at increased risk of developing iron-deficiency anaemia, undetected at birth.

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Accession: 010165503

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PMID: 10405849

DOI: 10.1093/ije/28.3.461

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