Background: Postpartum anaemia remains a persistent and severe public health issue in many parts of the world. Studies have reported mixed findings on the effects of anaemia during the postpartum period on maternal health-related quality of life (HRQoL). We conducted this systematic review to summarise available evidence to inform public health practitioners on whether 1) anaemia negatively impact maternal health-related quality of life and 2) whether iron supplementation in anaemic women can improve maternal HRQoL during the postpartum period.
Methods: This review’s protocol was registered online with PROSPERO (CRD42020206618). We extensively searched Embase, PubMed, Cochrane and Scopus through the HINARI website to identify studies that reported either association or effect of postpartum anaemia on fatigue, depression and mother-child interaction. We restricted our search to studies of human females published in English from databases inception until August 2020. We followed a guideline for reporting systematic reviews without meta-analysis to synthesise data.
Results: Ten out of 15 studies where the direction of effect could be determined reported a significant association between lower Hb levels and physical fatigue symptoms. Fourteen out of 19 studies also reported a significant association between Hb levels and postpartum depression. There was evidence in six of the seven and seven of the eight randomised controlled trials that iron replenishment significantly decreased physical fatigue and postpartum depression respectively. Two of the four included studies showed that anaemic mothers were less responsive and had negative feelings towards their children than non-anaemic mother.
Conclusion: Evidence from this review suggests that postpartum anaemia negatively affects health related quality of life and that iron replenishment improved both symptoms of fatigue and depression. Nevertheless, it remains unclear whether postpartum anaemia affects mother-child interaction.