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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2003 Jan-Feb;97(1):36-8.

Anaemia prevention for reduction of mortality in mothers and children.

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Tropical Child Health Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK.


The relationship of anaemia as a risk factor for child and maternal mortality is described. Maternal case fatality rates, mainly from hospital studies vary from < 1% to > 50%. These large differences in risk were related primarily to differences in available obstetric care for women living in areas with inadequate antenatal and delivery care facilities. The relative risk of mortality associated with moderate anaemia (haemoglobin [Hb] 40-80 g/L) was 1.35 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.92-2.00) and for severe anaemia (Hb < 47 g/L) was 3.51 (95% CI 2.05-6.00). Nutritional-related anaemia mortality is likely to be greater than malarial anaemia-related mortality. With good antenatal and obstetric care most anaemia-related deaths are preventable, and policies to reduce anaemia prevalence should not be divorced from efforts to provide adequate antenatal and delivery facilities for women in developing countries. In children, although mortality was increased with anaemia (< 50 g/L), the evidence for increased risk with less severe anaemia was inconclusive. A survival analysis of Malawian infants indicated that if Hb decreased by 10 g/L after 6 months of age, the risk of dying before 12 months of age increased 1.72 times. Evidence from a number of studies suggests that mortality due to severe malarial anaemia in children is greater than that due to iron-deficiency anaemia. Primary prevention of nutritional and malarial anaemia in young children could lead to reductions in child mortality.

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