Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989
BECERRA, César et al. Prevalence of Anemia in Pregnant Women, Pucallpa Regional Hospital, Peru. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1998, vol.3, n.5, pp.285-292. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891998000500001.
Population based health surveys in Peru show that the general fertility rates, proportion of pregnant adolescents, and maternal and child morbidity are higher in the jungle regions than in other parts of the country. Endemic intestinal parasitic diseases increase the risk of anemia in pregnant women already suffering from iron, folic acid, and other nutritional deficiencies. This is the most common complication of pregnancy in many Latin American countries and is often associated with premature labor, low birthweight, and perinatal mortality. There are very few studies on this subject based on jungle populations and no reliable estimates of the prevalence of anemia in local pregnant women. The present study was designed to determine the prevalence of anemia in pregnant women attending the Regional Hospital in Pucallpa, located in the Peruvian jungle, from January 1993 to June 1995. This cross-sectional study, which was based on the registries of prenatal and childbirth services encompassing 1 015 pregnant women, looked into the potential association between anemia and such variables as the mother's chronological age, schooling, previous pregnancies, and weight at the beginning of pregnancy. Maternal hemoglobin levels were compared with the newborns' weight at birth. The prevalence of anemia in this population sample was 70.1%. This value was not modified when adjusted for maternal age, schooling, or interval between births. Anemia prevalence was directly related to the number of previous pregnancies and inversely related to weight gain during pregnancy. The perinatal mortality rate was 37.7 per 1 000 births. Neither this rate nor the birthweights were associated with the mother's degree of anemia. A multivariate regression analysis showed that maternal body weight at the start of pregnancy (P = 0.0001), weight gain during pregnancy (P = 0.0001), and the number of pregnancies (P = 0.008) are predictors of birthweight. Results showed that the high prevalence of anemia in Pucallpa's pregnant women is not associated with low birthweight or a high perinatal mortality rate. Future studies should investigate the principal causes of anemia in the pregnant women of Pucallpa and how the disease affects the psychomotor development of their offspring.