Background: Nutritional anemia is one of India's major public health problems. The prevalence of anemia ranges from 33% to 89% among pregnant women and is more than 60% among adolescent girls. Under the anemia prevention and control program of the Government of India, iron and folic acid tablets are distributed to pregnant women, but no such program exists for adolescent girls.
Objective: To assess the status of anemia among pregnant women and adolescent girls from 16 districts of 11 states of India.
Methods: A two-stage random sampling method was used to select 30 clusters on the basis of probability proportional to size. Anemia was diagnosed by estimating the hemoglobin concentration in the blood with the use of the indirect cyanmethemoglobin method.
Results: The survey data showed that 84.9% of pregnant women (n = 6,923) were anemic (hemoglobin < 110 g/L); 13.1% had severe anemia (hemoglobin < 70 g/L), and 60.1% had moderate anemia (hemoglobin > or = 70 to 100 g/L). Among adolescent girls (n = 4,337)from 16 districts, the overall prevalence of anemia (defined as hemoglobin < 120 g/L) was 90.1%, with 7.1% having severe anemia (hemoglobin < 70 g/L).
Conclusions: Any intervention strategy for this population must address not only the problem of iron deficiency, but also deficiencies of other micronutrients, such as B12 and folic acid and other possible causal factors.