Anemia during Pregnancy: Control and prevention

01:01 PM May 28, 2019 | Team Udayavani |
Iron is essential for a healthy body and is used by our body to make haemoglobin, which carries oxygen for our body through red blood cells and myoglobin which in turn delivers oxygen to our muscles. Iron is very important for our body as it contributes to the growth of healthy hair, skin and nails and also for normal transmission of signals in the brain. Anemia in pregnancy is a common problem with iron deficiency being the common cause. The worldwide prevalence of anemia during pregnancy is estimated to be around 38%. The common reason for anemia during pregnancy is lack of iron. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) means one has less haemoglobin than normal in each red blood cell. Anemia or iron deficiency during pregnancy is caused due to an increase in plasma volume disproportionately, resulting in the lowering of hemoglobin. It is advisable to get a screening for anemia during pregnancy at the onset as well as 28 weeks of gestation. Nutritional deficiency or low iron stores resulting from previous pregnancy or heavy menstrual blood loss could also cause iron deficiency anemia, which is usually treated with iron tablets. The requirement for iron increases as pregnancy advances. The requirement of iron for a pregnant woman will be three times more than a non-pregnant woman who is menstruating. A pregnant women’s body needs more iron to get more blood in order to supply adequate oxygen to the baby. While Iron Deficiency Anemia during pregnancy may be asymptomatic, following are the more common symptoms:
  • Tiredness and weakness with low energy
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Giddiness/Fainting
  • Pale appearance
  • Memory loss
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Hair splits or hair loss and brittle nails
Regardless of whether or not you have these symptoms, one is advised to have the necessary blood tests to screen for anemia during pregnancy. Lack of iron affects the immune system making it more susceptible to infections. It is better to avoid or check with ones Obstetrician before taking iron supplements or iron-rich food. To prevent anemia in Pregnancy, Govt. of India (Ministry of Health) approves 100 iron tabs in Pregnancy. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of complication for both the mother and baby. There is an increased risk of having a low-birth weight baby or a pre-term delivery as well as postnatal depression. There is a possibility of anemia in the new-born baby also due to low iron reserves in the baby. Women with anemia in pregnancy are at a higher risk due to the following risk factors:
  • Maternal death
  • Fetal death
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth-weight baby
  • Heart ailments
  • Developmental problem in babies
  • More susceptible to infection
A growing baby in the womb needs iron and takes it from the mother. Therefore, women during their pregnancy who eat a diet that has less iron content are at a risk of being anemic. A good nutrition can prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. Sources of iron in diet can be found in lean red meat, fish and poultry products. The iron from meat products is easily absorbed. Iron supplements taken with food or drink high in vitamin C such as orange juice and tomato juice improves absorption. Iron tablets are usually prescribed to treat anemia. Cooking using cast iron pots,  can help add up to eighty percent more iron. Consuming food rich in folic acid, such as dark leafy vegetables, dried beans, etc help. Dr. Aparna Jha, MBBS, MS, DNB, MRCOG (1) Consultant Gynecologist and Obstetrician Apollo Cradle, Brookfield Bengaluru  

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