( Under Dioceses of Kolkata, Church of North India )

158, Belilious Road, Bantra, Howrah, 711 101.

Bantra St. Thomas' Home Welfare Society

Go to Vitamin A Deficiency

Iron Deficiency

Hemoglobin of pregnant women in the slums of Howrah and Kolkata

Iron deficiency is the most frequent micronutrient deficiency worldwide and affects mostly women of childbearing age and children in developing countries. Iron deficiency hampers the motor and mental development of children and puts pregnant women at higher risk of complications.

The concentration of hemoglobin in blood is an easily available laboratory parameter that reflects the iron status of a child or an adult. A low hemoglobin concentration is often, but not always caused by iron deficiency. In developing countries, the median hemoglobin concentration of a sample of subjects from a certain population can serve as a proxy of the iron status of this population, although some limitations of such estimation must be kept in mind.


The hand of a woman with a low hemoglobin

We have examined and recorded the hemoglobin concentration of pregnant mothers of our primary health care centers in different slums of Howrah and Kolkata, West Bengal, India, to get an estimate of the iron deficiency of the local maternal population and to observe the trend in time of this micronutrient deficiency in the local population.

All mothers taking part in our antenatal care program get an examination of their hemoglobin concentration done, and age, parity and month of pregnancy are additionally recorded.


The data shown in the graphics indicate that less than half of the pregnant women from slums in Howrah and Kolkata reach the lower normal level of the hemoglobin concentration in pregnancy (11.0 gr/dl). We conclude cautiously that iron deficiency affects the majority of pregnant women in the slums of Howrah and Kolkata.

More data are needed to show a trend of the hemoglobin concentration in pregnant women over the years. The available data from 2008 to 2012 don't show a significant improvement or deterioration so far.