Iron status and HIV / AIDS: a case of pregnant women at Pumwani maternity hospital in Nairobi, Kenya
Waweru, Joseph Mwaura
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Anemia is a major public health problem in Africa affecting over 80% of women in many countries. It is more common during pregnancy due to the increased demand for iron at different stages of pregnancy. In Kenya, one out of every two mothers is affected by anemia. HIV/AIDS infection among expectant women increases risks of anemia severity and prevalence. Minimal information exists on the combined effects of pregnancy and HIV/AIDS on anemia. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between iron and HIV/AIDS status in pregnant women. A case-control study was conducted at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi Kenya. A total of 114 respondents comprised of cases 57 seropositive and controls 57 seronegative pregnant women were randomly and cocurrently selected. The hemoglobin (Hb), demographic, social-economic and health data of these women were taken. A 24-hour dietary recall was used to determine the food consumption patterns. The study found out that both cases and controls were from low social-economic status and consumed monotonous diet mainly of plant origin. With exception of pre-eclampsia, other pregnant related problems; headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, heartburns and vomiting were more predominant among the cases than the controls. Anemia was more prevalent and severe among the cases (prevalence 68%, mean Hb 9.551g/dl) than the controls (prevalence 26.3 %, mean Hb 11.974g/dl). There was a significant difference between Hb levels of the cases and those of control groups. Pregnant women from low social-economic background consumed diets with iron of low bioavailability, have low Hb and are generally anemic. HIV/AIDS infected pregnant women had lower Hb and six times more likely to be anemic than uninfected. Pregnant related problems are more common among the HIV/AIDS infected women than non-infected. It is therefore concluded that HIV/AIDS is associated with low Hb and it exacerbates anemia prevalence and severity among the pregnant women. There is therefore a need to reactivate and reorient pre-natal nutrition counseling to emphasis improved consumption of essential nutrients particularly iron of high biological value. Researches on the status of other major erythropoetic and immune supporting micronutrients will be critical in strengthening the interventions to check anemia prevalence and severity within the HIV and low socio-economic context.
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