Prevalence and determinants of anemia among women of reproductive age in Thatta Pakistan: Findings from a cross-sectional study

Sumera Aziz Ali, Zahid Abbasi, Babar Shahid, Ghazal Moin, K. Michael Hambidge, Nancy F. Krebs, Jamie E. Westcott, Elizabeth M. McClure, Robert L. Goldenberg, Sarah Saleem

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background Anemia is a major public health concern among women of reproductive age leading to high maternal mortality in low- and middle-income countries. Of the prior studies conducted in Pakistan, most focused on large urban areas and did not explore the determinants of anemia among women of reproductive age (WRA) across socio-demographic, dietary, reproductive, and biological domains. Thus, we aimed to study the prevalence and determinants of anemia among WRA in rural Pakistan. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study in the Thatta district of Pakistan from September 2018 to January 2019 and enrolled 150 non-pregnant, married women. Data collectors administered a structured questionnaire to collect sociodemographic, reproductive and dietary data from women, who also provided stool and blood samples. We classified all WRA as anemic if their hemoglobin was <12.0 g/dl. We performed logistic regression analysis to calculate adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and their respective 95% CIs to assess the determinants of anemia. Results In our study, 61.3% of the enrolled women were anemic. In the multivariable analysis, we found that factors such as serum iron levels of less than 50 μg/dl (aOR: 7.17; 95% CI (2.94, 17.47)), history of breastfeeding (aOR: 2.43; 95% CI (1.04, 5.72)), living in a katcha house (aOR: 6.61; 95% CI (2.21, 19.87)), no consumption of meat (aOR: 4.18; 95% CI (1.66, 9.96)) were significantly associated with anemia among WRA. A history of more than one abortion (aOR: 0.06; 95% CI (0.01, 0.33) appeared protective for its association with anemia. Conclusion Our findings demonstrate a high burden of anemia and its complex determinants among WRA in rural Pakistan. A combination of nutritional and educational strategies should be designed to encourage rural women to consume iron-rich foods in their diet with an access to adequate food. Breastfeeding women should be encouraged to consume extra calories with sufficient intake of the food to continue exclusive breastfeeding and reserve the iron stores through amenorrhea to prevent themselves from becoming anemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0239320
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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