An evidence-based definition of anemia for singleton, uncomplicated pregnancies

Amanda C. Zofkie, W. Holt Garner, Rachel C. Schell, Alexandra S. Ragsdale, Donald D. McIntire, Scott W. Roberts, Catherine Y. Spong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background The definition for anemia in pregnancy is outdated, derived from Scandinavian studies in the 1970’s to 1980’s. To identity women at risk of blood transfusion, a common cause of Severe Maternal Morbidity, a standard definition of anemia in pregnancy in a modern, healthy United States cohort is needed. Objective To define anemia in pregnancy in a United States population including a large county vs. private hospital population using uncomplicated patients. Materials and methods Inclusion criteria were healthy women with the first prenatal visit before 20 weeks. Exclusion criteria included preterm birth, preeclampsia, hypertension, diabetes, short interval pregnancy (<18 months), multiple gestation, abruption, and fetal demise. All women had iron fortification (Ferrous sulfate 325 mg daily) recommended. The presentation to care and predelivery hematocrits were obtained, and the percentiles determined. A total of 2000 patients were included, 1000 from the public county hospital and 1000 from the private hospital. Each cohort had 250 patients in each 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2018. The cohorts were compared for differences in the fifth percentile for each antepartum epoch. Student’s t-test and chi-squared statistical tests were used for analysis, p-value of ≤0.05 was considered significant. Results In the public and private populations, 777 and 785 women presented in the first trimester while 223 and 215 presented in the second. The women at the private hospital were more likely to be older, Caucasian race, nulliparous, and present earlier to care. The fifth percentile was compared between the women in the private and public hospitals and were clinically indistinguishable. When combining the cohorts, the fifth percentile for hemoglobin/ hematocrit was 11 g/dL/32.8% in the first trimester, 10.3 g/dL/30.6% in the second trimester, and 10.0 g/dL/30.2% pre-delivery. Conclusions Fifth percentile determinations were made from a combined cohort of normal, uncomplicated pregnancies to define anemia in pregnancy. Comparison of two different cohorts confirms that the same definition for anemia is appropriate regardless of demographics or patient mix.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262436
JournalPloS one
Issue number1 January
StatePublished - Jan 2022


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