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.