Universal Iron Supplementation: A Simple and Effective Strategy to Reduce Anaemia Among Low-Income, Postpartum Women

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Community Health Sciences


Health Professions


Objective: To reduce prevalence of anaemia in low-income postpartum women.

Design: A randomised, non-blind clinical trial was conducted among 959 low-income, postpartum women in eleven clinics in Mississippi. The clinics were randomised to one of three treatment groups: (i) selective anaemia screening of high-risk women as recommended currently (control); (ii) universal anaemia screening and treatment of anaemic women (group I); and (iii) universal Fe supplementation of 65 mg/d for two months to all low-income women (group II). All study participants within each clinic received the same treatment. Women were followed up at 6 months after delivery. Hb was measured at baseline and at follow-up. The primary outcome variable was the proportion of women with anaemia after treatment.

Setting: Eleven health clinics in Mississippi.

Subjects: Low-income, postpartum women.

Results: Baseline characteristics of the three study groups were compared using one-way ANOVA and an appropriate post hoc test for continuous variables and the chi(2) test for categorical variables. Fifty-two per cent of postpartum women were anaemic (Hb, 12.0 g/dl) and the rate decreased to 33% at 6 months after the intervention. Group II women, who received universal Fe supplementation, improved their Hb status significantly (P<0.001) at 6 months postpartum compared with the other groups. Prevalence of anaemia was also significantly lower among group II women (22.5%) compared with controls (34%) and group I women (43%; P<0.001).

Conclusions: A universal Fe supplementation strategy was effective in reducing the prevalence of anaemia among low-income postpartum women.


©Public Health Nutrition

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Public Health Nutrition





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