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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Penn State: Study Aims to Reduce Iron Deficiencies, Improve Health Outcomes for Expectant Mothers in Africa

Woman in developing countries are vulnerable to poor nutrition. Iron deficiencies in pregnant women can lead to anemia and can pose health problems to expectant mothers and their babies. Iron supplements are recommended during pregnancy to prevent adverse health outcomes.

Leading a team from Penn State, PhD in epidemiology student Mr. Djibril M. Ba examines the Adherence to Iron Supplementation in 22 sub-Saharan African Countries and Associated Factors Among Pregnant Women: A Large Population-Based Study.

The study, published in Current Developments in Nutrition, examines demographic and health survey responses from nearly 149,000 expectant mothers, 15 to 49 years old, living in 22 SSA countries from 2013 to 2018. The research focused on the women’s most-recent births and defined the timeframe for iron supplementation adherence as at least 90 days during pregnancy.

The overall rate of adherence to iron supplementation during pregnancy was less than 29 percent, but varied significantly (1.4 percent to 73 percent) depending on the country. Pregnant women living in Senegal had the highest rate of adherence, with nearly 73 percent taking supplements.

Several factors, such as education, prenatal care, marital status, medical history, and socioeconomic status, contributed to the different rates. Rates were higher for wealthy, educated women living in urban areas, who had access to technology and medical care.

Penn State PhD in epidemiology student Dr. Paddy Ssentongo; Public Health Sciences professors Dr. Kristen Kjerulff, Dr. Guodong Liu and Ping Du; and Health and Human Development professors Dr. Muzi Na and Dr. Xiang Gao contributed to this study.

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