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J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):358-62. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.149237. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Moderate to severe, but not mild, maternal anemia is associated with increased risk of small-for-gestational-age outcomes.

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Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Anemia is highly prevalent globally, estimated at 40-50% in women of reproductive age. Prior studies have produced inconclusive evidence as to the association between maternal anemia and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). We conducted a systematic review of the literature containing associations between maternal anemia and small for gestational age (SGA) outcomes (as a proxy for IUGR). A meta-analysis was performed to pool associations, categorized by the hemoglobin cutoffs presented by the authors. We identified 12 studies reporting associations between maternal anemia and SGA. For the meta-analysis, there were 7 associations with a hemoglobin cutoff <110 g/L, 7 with a cutoff <100 g/L, and 5 with a cutoff <90 or <80 g/L. Although the <110- and <100-g/L categories showed no significant relationship with SGA, the <90- or <80-g/L category was associated with a 53% increase in risk of the newborn being SGA [pooled OR = 1.53 (95% CI: 1.24-1.87); P < 0.001]. Moderate to severe, but not mild, maternal anemia appears to have an association with SGA outcomes, but the findings must be viewed with caution due to the great heterogeneity of the studies. Further examination should be conducted using datasets with better standardized definitions and measurements of exposure and outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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