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Public Health Nutr. 2004 Dec;7(8):1065-70.

Anaemia and iron deficiency during pregnancy in rural Bangladesh.

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  • 1Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



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


Cross-sectional survey.


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


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 microg l(-1)) or high sTfR (>8.5 mg l(-1)).


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).


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.

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