High prevalence of postpartum anemia among low-income women in the United States

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Aug;185(2):438-43. doi: 10.1067/mob.2001.115996.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of anemia from 4 to 26 weeks post partum and to examine prenatal predictors of postpartum anemia.

Study design: Retrospective cohort analysis of 59,428 participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children in 12 US states.

Results: The prevalence of postpartum anemia was 27%. Anemia rates were higher among minority women, reaching 48% among non-Hispanic black women. Of 9129 women who had normal hemoglobin in the third trimester, 21% had postpartum anemia. Prenatal anemia was the strongest predictor of postpartum anemia (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.5-2.8). Maternal obesity, multiple birth, and not breast-feeding also predicted postpartum anemia.

Conclusion: The high prevalence of post partum anemia among low-income women highlights the importance of anemia screening at 4 to 6 weeks post partum. These data suggest that screening should not be limited, as it is at present, to women considered at high risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Anemia / epidemiology*
  • Asian Americans
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups
  • Obesity / complications
  • Poverty*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Pregnancy, Multiple
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Hemoglobins