Red blood cell distribution width and iron deficiency anemia among pregnant Sudanese women

Diagn Pathol. 2012 Dec 3;7:168. doi: 10.1186/1746-1596-7-168.


Background: Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a major health problem during pregnancy and it has adverse effects on the mother and the newborn. Red cell distribution width (RDW), which is a quantitative measure for red cell size variation (anisocytosis), is a predictor of IDA. Little is known regarding RDW and IDA during pregnancy.

Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted at the antenatal clinic of Khartoum Hospital, Sudan, to determine the performance of RDW in the diagnosis of IDA using serum ferritin as a gold standard.

Results: Among 194 pregnant women with a gestational period of 21.4 ± 6.5 weeks, 57 (29.4%) had IDA according to serum ferritin levels (<15 μg/l) and 61 (31.4%) had IDA according to RDW (>14.5). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of RDW where serum ferritin was the gold standard were 43.8% (95% CI: 31.4-57.0%), 73.7% (95% CI: 65.8-80.5%), 41.0% (95% CI: 29.2-53.6%), and 76.0% (95% CI: 68.1-82.6%), respectively.

Conclusions: In this study, we found that RDW has a poor performance in diagnosing IDA among pregnant women compared with serum ferritin as the gold standard.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Erythrocyte Indices*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / diagnosis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sudan
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Ferritins