The aim of the study was to investigate whether the well-known high anemia prevalence in pregnant women from the eastern Mediterranean and Asian regions decreased when the women immigrated to a low-frequency region (Denmark). During 70 months, 1,741 pregnant immigrant women referred from primary care to an obligatory hemoglobinopathy screening were eligible for the study, as their screening was negative. To compare this group with a cohort of 205 pregnant ethnic Danish women, the groups were matched by gestational age, and a total of 406 immigrant women were included. Hemoglobin (Hb) and iron status parameters were examined in the two groups. The prevalence of anemia was higher in the immigrant group (20.0%) compared to the Danish women (4.9%) (P < 0.0001). Blood Hb concentration was 119 ± 12 g/l (mean ± SD) in the immigrant group compared to 122 ± 9 g/l in the Danish group (P = 0.01). Erythrocyte mean corpuscular volume (MCV) was also lower in the immigrant group (87 ± 7 fl vs 96 ± 4 fl) (P < 0.0001). A total of 13.1% of the immigrant women had an MCV <80 fl (the lower reference limit) compared to 0.0% in the Danish group, and plasma iron, ferritin, and transferrin saturation values indicated iron deficiency. Conclusively, the pregnant immigrant women had significantly higher prevalence of anemia compared to pregnant women of Danish origin. It indicates the need for an alternative routine screening procedure for this population group, which should also include nutritional counselling.
Pregnant women Iron deficiency anemia Hemoglobinopathy screening Immigrants