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Open Access Research article

Are published standards for haematological indices in pregnancy applicable across populations: an evaluation in healthy pregnant Jamaican women

Tameika R James1*, Harvey L Reid2 and Anthony M Mullings3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Physiology Section, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica, West Indies

2 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Physiology Section, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica, West Indies

3 Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Child Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Kingston 7, Jamaica, West Indies

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, 8:8  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-8

Published: 28 February 2008

Abstract

Background

The haematological profile of the pregnant woman has an impact on the outcome of the pregnancy. Published guidelines indicate acceptable levels for haematological indices in pregnancy but they are population specific. Indicators of haemoglobin concentration are the most commonly utilized of the indices. These published international norms are used across populations, however, there is no evidence confirming their applicability to a population such as the Jamaican pregnant woman. This study was therefore undertaken with the intent of documenting the haematological profile of pregnant primigravid Jamaican women and comparing these to the established norms to determine whether the norms apply or whether there was a need to establish local norms.

Methods

This was a longitudinal study done on a cohort of 157 healthy primigravid women ages 15 to 25 and without anaemia, and who were recruited from the antenatal clinic of the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. The haemoglobin concentration, packed cell volume, mean cell volume, mean cell haemoglobin, mean cell haemoglobin concentration, white blood cell count, red blood cell count and platelet count were measured on samples of blood obtained from each consenting participant during each of the three trimesters. The results were analysed using SPSS for windows (Version 11) and the data expressed as means ± S.D. Means were compared using the student's paired t-test. Comparison was then made with the international norms as recommended by the United States Center for Disease Control (1989). Ethical approval for this study was obtained from the University Hospital of the West Indies/University of the West Indies Ethics Committee.

Results

The results showed changes by trimester in all measured variables. For most of the indices the changes achieved levels of significance across trimesters. These changes were however in keeping with the expected physiological response in pregnancy and the values were similar to the published international norms.

Conclusion

The findings suggest that the international norms for haematological indices in pregnancy are applicable across populations and to the pregnant Jamaican primigravid woman. This finding may be reassuring to others with a similar population and stage of development as Jamaica.