Trends in prevalence and determinants of severe and moderate anaemia among women of reproductive age during the last 15 years in India
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Background: Anaemia is a serious global public health problem that disproportionally affects children, adolescent girls, and women of reproductive age, especially pregnant women. Women of reproductive age are more vulnerable to anaemia, particularly severe and moderate anaemia leads to adverse outcomes among pregnant women. Despite continuous Government efforts, anaemia burden still poses a serious challenge in India. The objective of this study is to assess the trends in prevalence and determinants of severe and moderate anaemia among women of reproductive age between 15 and 49 years. Method: We used three rounds of the large-scale National Family Health Survey (NFHS) India, conducted on a representative sample of households using a cross-sectional design across the country in 2005–06, 2015–16 and 2019–2021. We included all the women aged 15 to 49 years in our analysis. We used the same haemoglobin (Hb) cut-off values for all the three rounds of surveys to ensure comparability. Generalized linear regression analyses with log link were done. Survey weights were incorporated in the analysis. Results: The prevalence of severe or moderate Anaemia (SMA) in non-pregnant women was 14.20%, 12.43% and 13.98%; it was 31.11%, 25.98% and 26.66% for pregnant women in 2006, 2016 and 2021 respectively. The decline in SMA prevalence was 1.54% in non-pregnant women, whereas it was 14.30% in pregnant women in 15 years. Women who were poor, and without any formal education had a higher risk for severe and moderate Anaemia. Conclusion: Despite the intensive anaemia control program in India, SMA has not declined appreciably in non-pregnant women during the last two decades. Despite the decline, the prevalence of SMA was about 26% in pregnant women which calls for a comprehensive review of the existing anaemia control programmes and there must be targeted programmes for the most vulnerable and high-risk women such as rural, poor and illiterate women of reproductive age to reduce the burden of anaemia among them.