Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Anaemia and iron deficiency during pregnancy in rural Bangladesh

SM Ziauddin Hydera1a2 c1, Lars-Åke Perssona3, Mushtaque Chowdhurya1, Bo Lönnerdala4 and Eva-Charlotte Ekströma3

a1 Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh

a2 Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Hospital for Sick Children and Center for International Health, University of Toronto, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5G 1X8

a3 International Maternal and Child Health, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

a4 Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


Objective: To study the prevalence of anaemia and its association with measures of iron deficiency (ID) among a group of pregnant women.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Pregnant women identified through house-to-house visits and participating in community-based antenatal care activities in a rural location of Mymensingh, Bangladesh.

Subjects: The estimates are based on 214 reportedly healthy pregnant women in their second trimester. Information on socio-economic status and reproductive history were obtained through home visits and venous blood samples were collected at antenatal care centres. Haemoglobin concentration (Hb) was measured by HemoCue, serum ferritin (sFt) by radioimmunoassay and serum transferrin receptor (sTfR) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay methods. ID was defined as presence of either low sFt (<12 μg l−1) or high sTfR (>8.5 mg l−1).

Results: The prevalence of anaemia (Hb <110 g l−1) was 50%, but severe anaemia (Hb >70 g l−1) was absent. Low sFt was observed in 42%, high sTfR in 25%, either low sFt or high TfR in 54% and both low sFt and high TfR in 13% of the pregnant women. Two out of three anaemic women had an indication of ID, which was present in 80% of women with moderate (Hb 70–99 g l−1) and 50% with mild (Hb 100–109 g l−1) anaemia. Four out of 10 non-anaemic women (Hb >110 g l−1) also had ID, but the prevalence was significantly lower than that observed in anaemic women (P=0.001).

Conclusions: Despite the high prevalence of anaemia, severe cases were absent. The prevalence of ID increased at lower Hb. However, an increased prevalence was also found among women in the highest category of Hb.

(Received January 08 2002)

(Accepted May 27 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email