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Keywords:

  • Arab world;
  • consanguinity;
  • developing country;
  • maternal-child health;
  • poverty;
  • preconception care;
  • trade embargo;
  • woman's health

ABSTRACT Objectives: To describe the preconception health status of Iraqi women in 2001 following the trade embargo imposed on Iraq beginning in 1991 and only partially removed in 1996.

Design: A descriptive cross-sectional prevalence study.

Sample: 500 Iraqi women at a premarital clinic in Baghdad in 2001.

Measurements: Women were surveyed for age, area of residence, menstrual history, household crowding, consanguinity, and a family history of congenital problems. Clinical findings regarding height, weight, and hemoglobin level were included in the data.

Results: Almost one third of the women were below the age of 20 and the majority were between 20 and 25 years of age. More than half of the women in this study had an intermediate-level education or less and lived in very crowded housing. Most of the women were anemic and reported a delay in menarche, suggesting malnutrition. Most of the women were planning consanguineous unions even though many reported congenital conditions in their family of origin.

Conclusions: Young Iraqi women who endured embargo needed, and continue to need, aggressive preventive health services to recoup health gains lost during the 1990s and to address prevention of common congenital disorders.