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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1991 Nov-Dec;85(6):829-32.

Severe anaemia in pregnancy: a problem of primigravidae in rural Zaire.

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  • 1Department of Child Life and Health, University of Edinburgh, UK.


Haemoglobin levels were measured in 2950 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in Kimpese, Bas Zaire. 72% were suffering from moderate anaemia (haemoglobin (Hb) 7-11 g/dl) and 3.7% from severe anaemia (Hb less than 7 g/dl) at their first visit, before receiving any haematinics or anti-malarial prophylaxis. Haemoglobin levels rose with both increasing parity (P less than 0.001) and age. Multiple regression analysis revealed that parity was significant but age was not. The fall in haemoglobin early in the second trimester was greatest in primigravidae and diminished with successive pregnancies until the fourth. One in 6 primigravidae approached labour with a haemoglobin level less than 7.7 g/dl. Thick blood smears were examined from 379 women who presented in the first and second trimester. 70% of primigravidae had malaria parasitaemia, compared with 13% of multigravidae (P less than 0.001). Early malaria prophylaxis in the first 2 pregnancies is an important primary health care objective if the contribution of malaria to the significant fall in haemoglobin in the second trimester is to be averted.

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