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      Adherence to Iron-Folic Acid Supplementation and Associated Factors among Pregnant Women in Kasulu Communities in North-Western Tanzania


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          Pregnant women are at a high risk of anaemia, with iron-folate deficiency being the most common cause of anaemia among pregnant women. Despite the well-known importance of iron and folic acid supplementation (IFAS) during pregnancy, adherence to these supplements is relatively low and associated factors were not well identified in the study area. This study is aimed at investigating adherence to IFAS and associated factors among pregnant women in Kasulu district, north-western Tanzania.


          A health facility cross-sectional survey with a mixed-method approach was conducted in Kasulu district from March to April 2019. A structured questionnaire was given to 320 women with children aged 0-6 months to assess factors associated with adherence to IFAS among pregnant women. Data were entered into SPSS version 22.0 for analysis. Binary logistic regression was further employed to determine the factors associated with adherence to IFAS. Focus group discussions were done with 19 pregnant women and 15 mothers of children aged 0-6 months to obtain more clarifications on the factors associated with adherence to IFAS. Furthermore, in-depth interviews were done with six health care providers to explore their perceptions of IFAS.


          Out of the 320 respondents of the survey, 20.3% ( n = 65) adhered to IFAS. Factors associated with adherence to IFAS among pregnant women included time to start ANC (AOR = 3.72, 95% CI: 1.42, 9.79), knowledge of anaemia (AOR = 3.84, 95% CI: 1.335, 10.66), counseling on the importance of the iron-folic acid (AOR = 3.86, 95% CI: 1.42, 10.50), IFAS given during clinical visit (AOR = 15.72, 95% CI: 5.34, 46.31), number of meals consumed (AOR = 3.44, 95% CI: 1.28, 9.21), number of children (AOR = 3.462, 95% CI: 1.035, 11.58), and distance to health facility (AOR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.131, 0.886). Qualitative findings revealed that delayed first ANC visit, lack of remainder for pregnant women to take IFAS, low awareness about the negative effects of anaemia, low of knowledge of IFAS and management of side effects, negative beliefs about the use of IFAS, and follow-up mechanism were major reasons for poor adherence.


          Adherence to iron-folic acid supplementation during pregnancy was low. Strengthening systems for creating reminding mechanism, raising community awareness through educational programs to pregnant women and health providers could improve adherence to IFAS.

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          Factors associated with prenatal folic acid and iron supplementation among 21,889 pregnant women in Northern Tanzania: A cross-sectional hospital-based study

          Background Folate and iron deficiency during pregnancy are risk factors for anaemia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight, and may contribute to poor neonatal health and increased maternal mortality. The World Health Organization recommends supplementation of folic acid (FA) and iron for all pregnant women at risk of malnutrition to prevent anaemia. We assessed the use of prenatal folic acid and iron supplementation among women in a geographical area with a high prevalence of anaemia, in relation to socio-demographic, morbidity and health services utilization factors. Methods We analysed a cohort of 21,889 women who delivered at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), Moshi, Tanzania, between 1999 and 2008. Logistic regression models were used to describe patterns of reported intake of prenatal FA and iron supplements. Results Prenatal intake of FA and iron supplements was reported by 17.2% and 22.3% of pregnant women, respectively. Sixteen percent of women reported intake of both FA and iron. Factors positively associated with FA supplementation were advanced maternal age (OR = 1.17, 1.02-1.34), unknown HIV status (OR = 1.54, 1.42-1.67), a diagnosis of anaemia during pregnancy (OR = 12.03, 9.66-14.98) and indicators of lower socioeconomic status. Women were less likely to take these supplements if they reported having had a malaria episode before (OR = 0.57, 0.53-0.62) or during pregnancy (OR = 0.45, 0.41-0.51), reported having contracted other infectious diseases (OR = 0.45, 0.42-0.49), were multiparous (OR = 0.73, 0.66-0.80), had preeclampsia/eclampsia (OR = 0.48, 0.38-0.61), or other diseases (OR = 0.55, 0.44-0.69) during pregnancy. Similar patterns of association emerged when iron supplementation alone and supplementation with both iron and FA were evaluated. Conclusions FA and iron supplementation are low among pregnant women in Northern Tanzania, in particular among women with co-morbidities before or during pregnancy. Attempts should be made to increase supplementation both in general and among women with pregnancy complications.
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            Determinants of compliance with iron supplementation: supplies, side effects, or psychology?

            Iron deficiency anemia affects over 2 billion people. Particularly at risk are pregnant women and young children. Although distribution of iron supplements is practised in many antenatal care programs in developing countries, it has often been alleged that pregnant women do not take them. Poor compliance arises not only because of patient behavior but also from factors out of the patient's control. This paper presents the results of a review of the literature on medical compliance to determine whether iron supplementation is different from other medications, to assess the known levels of compliance, and to synthesize recommendations for improving compliance relevant to iron supplementation. The review showed that compliance with iron therapy is a specific case of medical compliance. Reasons for non-compliance with iron deficiency treatment include: inadequate program support (lack of political commitment and financial support); insufficient service delivery (poor provider-user dynamics; lack of supplies, access, training, and motivation of health care professionals); and patient factors (misunderstanding instructions, side effects, frustration about the frequency and number of pills taken, migration, fear of having big babies, personal problems, nausea that accompanies pregnancy, and the subtlety of anemia which makes demand for treatment low). Much has been made about the side effects (nausea, constipation, etc.) that women might experience during iron therapy as the cause of poor compliance with iron supplementation without justification according to this review. Instead, unavailability of iron supplements was the most common reason why women did not take iron supplements. Women bear a disproportionate burden from iron deficiency anemia even though the technology exists to address the problem at low cost. Governments and health care professionals must renew their commitment to iron therapy by monitoring and improving compliance. We can significantly improve compliance by: making sure that iron supplements are available at all times; providing advanced warning about the possibility of side effects; involving the patient in the therapeutic strategy; and providing reminders, such as posters and calendars, about taking supplements.
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              Compliance with Iron and folic acid supplementation (IFAS) and associated factors among pregnant women: results from a cross-sectional study in Kiambu County, Kenya

              Background Macro and micronutrients including iron and folic acid deficiencies are prevalent in Kenya, particularly during pregnancy resulting in anaemia. Despite efforts to control anaemia in pregnancy by adopting Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (IFAS), this public health problem has persisted contributing to significant morbidity and mortality. The problem notwithstanding, there is poor IFAS compliance, whose reasons remain poorly understood, calling for their investigations. We sought to determine compliance status with IFAS and associated factors among pregnant women. Methods This was a cross-sectional study involving 364 pregnant women aged 15–49 years. Using two stage cluster sampling, one Sub-County and five public health facilities in Kiambu County were selected. All pregnant women attending antenatal clinics who met inclusion criteria and consented to participate in the study were recruited. Compliance with IFAS was defined as taking supplements at least 5 out of 7 days per week. A structured interviewer-administered questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic data, IFAS maternal knowledge and compliance practices was pretested and administered. Descriptive and inferential statistics were computed using STATA. Results Of the 364 respondents interviewed, 32.7% were IFAS compliant and 40.9% scored high on its knowledge. Of those with high IFAS knowledge, 48.3% were compliant compared to those with low knowledge (21.4%, n = 46, PR = 2.25;95%CI = 1.59–3.17, p < 0.001). Women who were multigravid (30.4%) were less likely to comply compared to primigravid (37.2%, n = 45, PR = 0.68;95%CI = 0.47–0.99, p = 0.004). Multivariate analysis revealed that respondents counselled on management of IFAS side effects (100%, n = 4) were more compliant (76.2%, n = 112, aPR = 1.31;95%CI = 1.19–1.44, p < 0.001). Conclusion Few pregnant women were compliant with IFAS regimen, associated with: knowledgeability on IFAS, primi-gravidity, and IFAS counselling especially on management of its side effects. These underscore the need for approaches to scale up health awareness on the benefits of IFAS, mitigation measures for the side effects, as well as targeted counselling.

                Author and article information

                Int J Reprod Med
                Int J Reprod Med
                International Journal of Reproductive Medicine
                4 June 2020
                : 2020
                : 3127245
                1Department of Impact Evaluation, Health System and Policy Analysis, Ifakara Health Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                2Department of Global Health and Bio-Medical Sciences, College of Life Science and Bioengineering, The Nelson Mandela Institution of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania
                3Department of Agricultural Extension and Community Development, College of Agriculture, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Samir Hamamah

                Author information
                Copyright © 2020 Winfrida B. Lyoba et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 1 November 2019
                : 18 March 2020
                : 15 April 2020
                Funded by: African Development Bank Group
                Research Article


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