If you are pregnant, you have an increased risk of iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which you do not have enough healthy red blood cells to deliver enough oxygen into your body tissue. Find out why anemia occurs during pregnancy and what you can do about it.
What causes iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy?
Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that transports oxygen into your tissues. During pregnancy you need twice the amount of iron that is not needed by pregnant women. Your body needs this iron to produce more blood to oxygenate your baby. If you do not have enough iron stores or you do not get enough iron during pregnancy, you may develop iron deficiency anemia.
How does iron deficiency anemia affect the baby during pregnancy?
Severe pregnancy anemia increases the risk of premature birth, low birthweight and postnatal depression. Some studies also show an increased risk of death of a child immediately before or after birth.
What are the risk factors for iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy?
You have an increased risk of anemia during pregnancy if you have:
- Do you have two closely spaced pregnancies?
- Are you pregnant with more than one child?
- Do you often vomit because of morning sickness  Do not consume enough iron
- You have a strong menstrual flow before pregnancy
- Pre-history of anemia before your pregnancy
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy?
Anemia signs and symptoms include:
- Pale or yellowish skin
- Irregular heartbeats
- 19659020] Dyspnoea
- Dizziness or drowsiness
- Chest pain  Cold hands and feet
Bear in mind, however, that symptoms of anemia often resemble the symptoms of pregnancy. Regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, you have blood tests to screen for anemia during pregnancy. If you are concerned about your fatigue or other symptoms, talk to your doctor.
How can iron deficiency anemia be prevented and treated during pregnancy?
Prenatal vitamins typically contain iron. Taking a prenatal vitamin containing iron can help prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a separate iron supplement. During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron daily.
A good diet can also prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Dietary sources of iron are lean red meat, poultry and fish. Other options include iron-enriched breakfast cereals, plum juice, dried beans and peas.
Iron from animal products such as meat is the most easily absorbed. In order to improve the absorption of iron from plant sources and dietary supplements, combine them with a food containing vitamin C or a high proportion of drinks such as orange juice, tomato juice or strawberries. If you are taking iron supplements with orange juice, avoid the calcium fortified variety. Although calcium is an essential nutrient during pregnancy, calcium can reduce iron absorption.
How is iron deficiency anemia treated during pregnancy?
If you are taking a prenatal vitamin that contains iron and is anemic, your doctor may be late to recommend testing to identify other possible causes. In some cases, you may need to see a doctor who specializes in the treatment of blood disorders (hematologist). If the cause is iron deficiency, additional iron may be suggested. If you suffer from past gastric bypass or small bowel surgery or if you can not tolerate oral iron, you may need intravenous iron administration.
Release date: 2014-12-24