Maternal Anaemia in Pregnancy: A Significantly Greater Risk Factor for Anaemia in Australian Aboriginal Children than Low Birth Weight or Prematurity

Abstract

Objectives

To identify maternal and perinatal risk factors associated with childhood anaemia.

Methods

A retrospective cohort study was conducted in three remote Katherine East Aboriginal communities in Northern Territory, Australia. Children born 2004–2014 in Community A and 2010–2014 in Community B and C, and their respective mothers were recruited into the study. Maternal and child data were linked to provide a longitudinal view of each child for the first 1000 days from conception to 2-years of age. Descriptive analyses were used to calculate mean maternal age, and proportions were used to describe other antenatal and perinatal characteristics of the mother/child dyads. The main outcome was the prevalence of maternal anaemia in pregnancy and risk factors associated with childhood anaemia at age 6 months.

Results

Prevalence of maternal anaemia in pregnancy was higher in the third trimester (62%) compared to the first (46%) and second trimesters (48%). There was a strong positive linear association (R2 = 0.46, p < 0.001) between maternal haemoglobin (Hb) in third trimester pregnancy and child Hb at age 6 months. Maternal anaemia in pregnancy (OR 4.42 95% CI 2.08–9.36) and low birth weight (LBW, OR 2.62, 95% CI 1.21–5.70) were associated with an increased risk of childhood anaemia at 6 months of age.

Conclusions for Practice

This is the first study to identify the association of maternal anaemia with childhood anaemia in the Australian Aboriginal population. A review of current policies and practices for anaemia screening, prevention and treatment during pregnancy and early childhood would be beneficial to both mother and child. Our findings indicate that administering prophylactic iron supplementation only to children who are born LBW or premature would be of greater benefit if expanded to include children born to anaemic mothers.

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Correspondence to Therese Kearns.

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Hansen, M., Singh, G., Barzi, F. et al. Maternal Anaemia in Pregnancy: A Significantly Greater Risk Factor for Anaemia in Australian Aboriginal Children than Low Birth Weight or Prematurity. Matern Child Health J 24, 979–985 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-020-02913-7

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Keywords

  • Anaemia
  • Maternal and child health
  • Australian aboriginal