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Predictors of anaemia and iron deficiency in HIV-infected pregnant women in Tanzania: a potential role for vitamin D and parasitic infections

  • Julia L Finkelstein (a1) (a2) (a3), Saurabh Mehta (a1), Christopher P Duggan (a2) (a4), Donna Spiegelman (a3) (a5), Said Aboud (a6), Roland Kupka (a2) (a7), Gernard I Msamanga (a8) and Wafaie W Fawzi (a2) (a3) (a9)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 04 October 2011

Anaemia is common during pregnancy, and prenatal Fe supplementation is the standard of care. However, the persistence of anaemia despite Fe supplementation, particularly in HIV infection, suggests that its aetiology may be more complex and warrants further investigation. The present study was conducted to examine predictors of incident haematological outcomes in HIV-infected pregnant women in Tanzania.


Prospective cohort study. Cox proportional hazards and binomial regression models were used to identify predictors of incident haematological outcomes: anaemia (Hb < 110 g/l), severe anaemia (Hb < 85 g/l) and hypochromic microcytosis, during the follow-up period.


Antenatal clinics in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


Participants were 904 HIV-infected pregnant women enrolled in a randomized trial of vitamins (1995–1997).


Malaria, pathogenic protozoan and hookworm infections at baseline were associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of anaemia and hypochromic microcytosis during follow-up. Higher baseline erythrocyte sedimentation rate and CD8 T-cell concentrations, and lower Hb concentrations and CD4 T-cell counts, were independent predictors of incident anaemia and Fe deficiency. Low baseline vitamin D (<32 ng/ml) concentrations predicted a 1·4 and 2·3 times greater risk of severe anaemia and hypochromic microcytosis, respectively, during the follow-up period.


Parasitic infections, vitamin D insufficiency, low CD4 T-cell count and high erythrocyte sedimentation rate were the main predictors of anaemia and Fe deficiency in pregnancy and the postpartum period in this population. A comprehensive approach to prevent and manage anaemia, including micronutrient supplementation and infectious disease control, is warranted in HIV-infected women in resource-limited settings – particularly during the pre- and postpartum periods.

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