Objective: To assess the following associations between the second and third trimesters of pregnancy: (i) the intensity of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection and haemoglobin/anaemia, (ii) the effect of mebendazole treatment on the occurrence of STH infection, and (iii) the effect of mebendazole treatment on haemoglobin/anaemia.
Methods: Data originated from a trial of 1042 pregnant women recruited in their second trimester and followed to delivery. Baseline assessments included socio-demographic/health information from questionnaires, haemoglobin/anaemia from HemoCue ascertainment of fingerprick blood, and the presence and intensity of STH (Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworms and Trichuris trichiura) infections from Kato-Katz examination. All women were given iron supplements; half were randomly allocated to receive single dose 500 mg mebendazole, and half, placebo. Haemoglobin/anaemia and STH infection status were determined again in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Results: Complete information was available from 935 (89.7%) women. Mebendazole significantly reduced the prevalence and intensity of all three STH infections. Higher intensities of hookworm and Trichuris infections in the second trimester were associated with a higher risk of anaemia in the third trimester. Overall, women with moderate/heavy Trichuris infection were found to be at a higher risk of anaemia; the highest risk was observed among those with moderate/heavy hookworm co-infection (adjusted OR = 2.77; 95% CI: 1.26, 6.11). Mebendazole treatment did not reduce the risk of anaemia.
Conclusion: Higher intensities of both Trichuris and hookworm infections are associated with anaemia in pregnancy. The importance of Trichuris infections during pregnancy requires renewed attention.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.