Hemoglobin concentrations and adverse birth outcomes in South Asian pregnant women: findings from a prospective Maternal and Neonatal Health Registry

Sumera Aziz Ali, Shiyam Sunder Tikmani, Sarah Saleem, Archana B. Patel, Patricia L. Hibberd, Shivaprasad S. Goudar, Sangappa Dhaded, Richard J. Derman, Janet L. Moore, Elizabeth M. McClure, Robert L. Goldenberg

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21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While the relationship between hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations and pregnancy outcomes has been studied often, most reports have focused on a specific Hb cutoff used to define anemia. Fewer studies have evaluated pregnancy outcomes across the entire range of Hb values. Moreover, to date, most studies of the relationship of Hb concentrations to pregnancy outcomes have been done in high-income countries. Thus, we have sought to determine the relationship between the range of maternal Hb concentrations and adverse birth outcomes among South Asian pregnant women. Methods: For this study, we used data collected from two South Asian countries (Pakistan – Sindh Province and two sites in India - Belagavi and Nagpur) in a prospective maternal and newborn health registry study. To assess the association between Hb concentrations and various maternal and fetal outcomes, we classified the Hb concentrations into seven categories. Regression analyses adjusting for multiple potential confounders were performed to assess adverse pregnancy outcomes across the range of Hb concentrations. Findings: Between January 2012 and December 2018, 130,888 pregnant women were enrolled in the South Asian sites had a Hb measurement available, delivered and were included in the analyses. Overall, the mean Hb concentration of pregnant women from the sites was 9.9 g/dL, 10.0 g/dL in the Indian sites and 9.5 g/dL in the Pakistan site. Hb concentrations < 7 g/dL were observed in 6.9% of the pregnant Pakistani women and 0.2% of the Indian women. In both the Pakistani and Indian sites, women with higher parity and women with no formal education had lower Hb concentrations. In the Pakistani site, women > 35 years of age, women with ≥4 children and those who enrolled in the third trimester were more likely to have Hb concentrations of < 7 g/dL but these associations were not found for the Indian sites. When adjusting for potential confounders, for both India and Pakistan, lower Hb concentrations were associated with stillbirth, preterm birth, lower mean birthweight, and increased risk of low birthweight. In the Pakistani site, there was evidence of a U-shaped relationship between Hb concentrations and low birth weight, and neonatal mortality, and in India with hypertensive disease. Interpretation: This study documented the relationship between maternal Hb concentrations and adverse pregnancy outcomes in women from the Pakistani and Indian sites across the range of Hb values. Both low and high Hb concentrations were associated with risk of at least some adverse outcomes. Hence, both low and high values of Hb should be considered risk factors for the mother and fetus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154
JournalReproductive Health
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Anemia
  • Global network
  • Hemoglobin concetrations
  • India
  • Neonatal mortality
  • Pakistan
  • Pregnancy outcome
  • South Asia
  • Stillbirth


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