Interbirth interval and maternal anaemia in 21 sub-Saharan African countries: A fractionalpolynomial analysis
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Background Maternal anaemia is a global public health problem contributing to adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. In addition to other risk factors, interbirth interval has been identified as a potentially modifiable risk factor of maternal anaemia. However, the current evidence for the association between interbirth interval and maternal anaemia remains inconclusive. Hence, this study examined the association between the interbirth interval and maternal anaemia in sub-Saharan Africa. Methods We conducted a multinational cross-sectional study of interbirth interval (time between two singleton live births) and maternal anaemia (haemoglobin levels < 12 g/dl for non-pregnant women, < 11 g/dl for pregnant women) for 21 sub-Saharan African countries using the most recent nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys, 2010-2017. A weighted multivariable fractional polynomial function was used to estimate the non-linear relationship between interbirth interval and maternal anaemia, considering interbirth interval as a continuous variable and adjusting for potential confounders. Analyses were stratified by reproductive classification (non-pregnant and pregnant women). Results There were 81,693 women included in the study (89.2% non-pregnant, 10.8% pregnant). Of all women, 32.2% were in their postpartum period. Overall, 36.9% of women had anaemia (36.0% of non-pregnant and 44.3% of pregnant women). Of the participants, 15% had a short interbirth interval (<24 months), and 16% had a long interbirth interval (≥ 60 months). We found that both short and longer interbirth intervals were associated with an increased risk of maternal anaemia in a dose-response fashion. Relatively a lower risk of maternal anaemia was observed between 24 and 40 months of interbirth intervals. Conclusions Our findings suggest that both short and longer interbirth intervals were associated with an increased risk of maternal anaemia in sub-Saharan Africa.
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