World Health Organization recommends a standard daily oral dose of iron and folic acid (IFA) supplements throughout pregnancy to begin as early as possible. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of use of antenatal IFA supplements, and the socio-demographic factors associated with the non-use of antenatal IFA supplements from 14 selected districts in Pakistan.
Data was derived from a cross sectional household survey conducted in 14 project districts across Pakistan. Trained female field workers conducted interviews with married women of reproductive age from December 2011 to March 2012. Women with the most recent live births in the preceding five years of the survey were selected for this study. Data was analysed by using STATA 13 and adjusted for the cluster sampling design. Multivariate logistic regression models were constructed to identify the independent factors associated with the non-use of antenatal IFA supplements.
Of 6,266 women interviewed, 2,400 (38.3%, 95% CI, 36.6%, 40.1%) reported taking IFA supplements during their last pregnancy. Among IFA users, the most common source of supplements was doctors (49.4%) followed by community health workers (40.3%). The mean (±SE) number of supplements used was 76.9 (±51.6), and the mean (±SE) month of pregnancy at initiation of supplementation was 5.3 (±1.7) months. Socio-demographic factors significantly associated with the non-use of antenatal IFA supplements were living in Dera Ghazi Khan district (AdjOR: 1.72), maternal age 45 years and above (AdjOR: 1.97), no maternal education (AdjOR: 2.36), no paternal education (AdjOR: 1.58), belonging to the lowest household wealth index quartile (AdjOR: 1.47), and no use of antenatal care (ANC) services (AdjOR: 13.39).
The coverage of antenatal IFA supplements is very low in the surveyed districts of Pakistan, and the lack of parental education, older aged women, belonging to poorest households, residence in Dera Ghazi Khan district and no use of ANC services were all significantly associated with non-use of these supplements. These findings highlight the urgent need to develop interventions targeting all pregnant women by improving ANC coverage to increase the use of antenatal IFA supplements in Pakistan.