Inequality in iron sulfate supplementation among pregnant women in Southern Brazil

ABSTRACT: Introduction: The use of ferrous sulfate is recommended for all pregnant women from the 20th week of gestation to the 3rd month after delivery. Objective: To evaluate the coverage of ferrous sulfate among pregnant women and differentials according to demographic and socioeconomic variables. Method: A cross-sectional population-based study with women who had children in Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, from January 1st to December 31st, 2013. Ferrous sulfate coverage was assessed according to maternal age, schooling, family income, and type of prenatal care. Statistical analysis included Pearson’s χ2 test and Poisson regression. Results: 2,685 postpartum women (97% of the total) were interviewed and the ferrous sulfate coverage was 63%. The largest relative differences were between the extreme maternal schooling groups (50%) and the type of medical care in prenatal care (72%). Women aged between 13 and 19 years were significantly associated with the use of supplement (RP = 1.16; 95%CI 1.08 - 1.25) when compared to women aged ≥ 30 years. Those who used the public service in prenatal care were more strongly associated with the outcome when compared to those who used the private system (PR = 1.61; 95%CI 1.49 - 1.74). Conclusion: Considering that there are unusual situations in the health sector in which disadvantaged groups are privileged, these findings are rare and indicate the presence of inequality in a way that is opposite to what was expected. The supplement should consider all women, especially older women, with higher education and better socioeconomic status.