What Causes Anemia In Pregnancy

Do I Need More Iron During Pregnancy

Anemia during Pregnancy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Yes. During pregnancy, your body needs more iron to support your growing baby. In fact, pregnant women need almost twice as much iron as women who are not pregnant do. Not getting enough iron during pregnancy raises your risk for birth or a low-birth-weight baby . Premature birth is the most common cause of infant death. Both premature birth and low birth weight raise your baby’s risk for health and developmental problems at birth and during childhood.

If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about these steps:

  • Getting 27 milligrams of iron every day. Take a prenatal vitamin with iron every day, or talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement .
  • Testing for iron-deficiency anemia
  • Testing for iron-deficiency anemia four to six weeks after childbirth

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Anemia is when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the rest of your body. Without enough oxygen, your body cannot work as well as it should, and you feel tired and run down.

Anemia can affect anyone, but women are at greater risk for this condition. In women, iron and red blood cells are lost when bleeding occurs from very heavy or long periods .

Anemia is common in pregnancy because a woman needs to have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around her body and to her baby. So it’s important to prevent anemia before, during and after pregnancy. Your provider tests you for anemia at a prenatal care visit.

What Is Anemia During Pregnancy

Anemia during a healthy pregnancy is common. Anemia means your red blood cell level is low. It can happen when you’re pregnant because your body is working hard to make more blood to help your baby grow.

Sometimes anemia during pregnancy can be caused by other problems, including not having enough iron, folic acid, or vitamin B12. Each type of anemia is treated differently.

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I Am A Vegetarian How Can I Make Sure I Get Enough Iron

You can help make sure you get enough iron by choosing foods that contain iron more often. Vegetarians need more iron from food than people who eat meat. This is because the body can absorb iron from meat better than from plant-based foods.

Vegetarian sources of iron include:

  • Cereals and bread with added iron
  • Lentils and beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Canned tomatoes

Talk to your doctor or nurse about whether you get enough iron. Most people get enough iron from food.

How Do Can You Get The Right Amount Of Iron

How to Identify and Treat Anemia in Pregnancy

Before getting pregnant, women should get about 18 milligrams of iron per day. During pregnancy, the amount of iron you need jumps to 27 mg per day. Most pregnant women get this amount from eating foods that contain iron and taking prenatal vitamins that contain iron. Some women need to take iron supplements to prevent iron deficiency.

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Anemia In Pregnancy: Types Causes Symptoms And Treatment

Anemia is a blood condition that develops when the blood does not have enough Red Blood Cells . RBCs contain hemoglobin, a protein responsible for carrying oxygen within the body. Having less than the necessary number of RBCs in the circulating blood makes it difficult to supply enough oxygen and iron to the mother and the fetus . It can affect the functions of the maternal muscle and nerve cells and also affect the developing babys health.

While Anemia can be managed and most mothers with Anemia have an uneventful Pregnancy, timely intervention plays a key role. Read this post to know more about the types, causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of Anemia in Pregnancy.

Prevention Of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency is the most common cause of non-physiologic anemia. Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented with supplemental oral iron 27â30 mg daily. This dose typically corresponds to the amount of iron found in iron-containing prenatal vitamins. Consult with your medical provider to determine whether additional supplements are needed. Complete routine labs during pregnancy for early detection of iron deficiency anemia.

Iron deficiency anemia can also be prevented by eating iron-rich foods. This includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, dried beans, and fortified grains.

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Starting Pregnancy In Good Health

If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, you should see your doctor and get a check-up. At this time, you will get advice about anaemia and other conditions, and particularly about taking iodine and folate supplements.

Women are advised to take a folic acid supplement for at least a month before becoming pregnant and continue this for at least the first 3 months. This will decrease the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The standard dose is 0.5mg of folic acid per day, but the dose may be higher for women who have diabetes, epilepsy, are overweight or have had a child with a neural tube defect. This should be discussed with a doctor.

It is also recommended to consume 150mcg Iodine through supplements as well as obtaining iodine from a healthy diet. Iodine is used in the body to produce thyroid hormones. It is essential for the babys development and pregnant women need more iodine that the average person.

What Causes Low Iron Levels In Pregnancy

Severe Anaemia in Pregnancy – by Dr. Suchitra Pandit

During pregnancy, the blood plasma undergoes an increase in volume.

Red blood cells have a lifespan of 120 days. Your baby also needs blood supply from you.

With the increase in plasma, the red blood cells must match up the pace.

However, morning sickness and aversions dont allow enough dietary intake. And this leads to low RBC count per plasma volume unit.

Iron levels are low because of its use in making RBC and reduced intake.

Other reasons for low iron levels in the blood can be because of consumption of soya and tea.

The tannins in tea counter the absorption of iron.Loss of blood during pregnancy due to spotting or any surgery increases the risk of low iron.

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Iron Deficiency Anemia In Women Of Reproductive Age

In 2011, 29% of non-pregnant women and 38% of pregnant women aged 1549 years were anemic, of which about 20 million had severe anemia. Although IDA is most frequent in low-income countries, recent data show that 4050% of European non-pregnant women have low iron body stores. Women are known to have a much higher iron deficiency prevalence compared to men of the same age the prevalence rate is about 10-times higher than males. This difference is mostly due to regular blood loss during menstruation, which is often associated with low iron intake., Adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to this condition because of the elevated iron request for rapid growth, and menstrual blood loss., Furthermore, several conditions can play a determinant role in favoring insufficiency of iron in women, such as chronic gynecologic bleeding due to uterine fibroids,- endometriosis,- adenomyosis, or endometrial hyperplasia. Moreover, intestinal malabsorption problems, frequent blood donation, and benign and malignant gastrointestinal lesions are other causes of IDA in women.,,

Will I Be Checked For Anaemia During My Pregnancy

Yes. You should have a blood test to check for any conditions that may affect your baby, including anaemia, at your booking appointment and when you are 28 weeks pregnant.

If youre carrying more than one baby you should have an extra blood test at 20-24 weeks.

This will give you enough time to get treatment if you need it.

You can call your midwife at any time if you think you have anaemia symptoms and you can be tested for anaemia at any point in your pregnancy. You dont have to wait for your antenatal appointments or for routine tests

I had anaemia before I was pregnant with my son, which was treated. Im pregnant again and have been feeling the same… tired and run down. Ive told my midwife and am waiting for the results of my blood test.


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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Anemia

Anemia takes some time to develop. In the beginning, you may not have any signs or they may be mild. But as it gets worse, you may have these signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain

Because your heart has to work harder to pump more oxygen-rich blood through the body, all of these signs and symptoms can occur.

Treatment Of Iron Deficiency Anemia In Pregnancy

13 Ways to Heal Anemia Naturally
  • Usually ferrous sulfate 325 mg orally once a day

One 325-mg ferrous sulfate tablet taken midmorning is usually effective. Higher or more frequent doses increase GI adverse effects, especially constipation, and one dose blocks absorption of the next dose, thereby reducing percentage intake.

About 20% of pregnant women do not absorb enough supplemental oral iron a few of them require parenteral therapy. The iron deficit may be calculated, and the iron can often be replaced over one or two infusions. Hct or Hb is measured weekly to determine response. If iron supplements are ineffective, concomitant folate deficiency should be suspected.

Neonates of mothers with iron deficiency anemia usually have a normal Hct but decreased total iron stores and a need for early dietary iron supplements.

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How Does Iron Deficiency In Pregnancy Affects The Newborn

Iron deficiency affects the newborn in several ways. When fetus does not get enough iron, the babys growth can become altered. Iron deficiency can impact your babys growth leading to preterm birth or low birth weight.

Other complications include developmental delays in the child, blood transfusion, increased risk of your baby developing anemia. Sometimes, severe cases of anemia can also cause serious birth defects of the spine or brain in the baby.

Furthermore, it can increase your chances of developing postpartum depression.

Folic Acid In Pregnancy

A healthy diet on its own will not give you enough folate for pregnancy so its very important to take folic acid supplements.

You should always take folic acid supplements in pregnancy, even if you do not have folate deficiency anaemia.

This is because folic acid tablets drastically cut the risk of having a baby with spina bifida or other problems affecting the babys spine and neural tube. You should take folic acid for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as thats when the spine and neural tube are developing.

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Maternal And Fetal Consequences Of Iron Deficiency Anemia

Pregnant women with IDA show various symptoms, including pallor, breathlessness, palpitations, hair loss, headaches, vertigo, leg cramps, cold intolerance, dizziness, and irritability. IDA can also lead to reduced thermoregulation, fatigue, poor concentration, reduced working capacity, decreased maternal breast milk production, and maternal iron stores depletion during the postpartum period., Furthermore, the risk of postpartum depression is significantly increased in comparison with pregnant women without iron deficiency fatigue and depression, due to anemia, may negatively influence the mother-child relationship.- In addition, pregnant women with IDA have an increased risk of developing complications such as increased susceptibility to infections, cardiovascular insufficiency, eclampsia, higher risk of hemorrhagic shock, or need of peripartum blood transfusion in cases of heavy blood loss. The risk of maternal mortality has a direct correlation with the severity of IDA.

How Is Anemia Diagnosed

Goodfellow Unit: Womens Health Seminar 2016 – Iron Deficiency Anaemia IDA in Pregnancy

Anemia is usually discovered during a prenatal examination through a routine blood test for hemoglobin or hematocrit levels. Diagnostic procedures for anemia may include additional blood tests and other evaluation procedures.

  • hemoglobin – the part of blood that distributes oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body.
  • hematocrit – the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells found in a specific volume of blood.

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Can I Get More Iron Than My Body Needs

Yes, your body can get too much iron. Extra iron can damage the liver, heart, and pancreas. Try to get no more than 45 milligrams of iron a day, unless your doctor prescribes more.

Some people get too much iron because of a condition called hemochromatosis that runs in families. Learn more about hemochromatosis, who is at risk, and how it is treated.

You can also get too much iron from iron pills or from repeated blood transfusions.

How To Find Out The Type Of Anemia

Women who are suffering from anemia should therefore always pursue active healthy lifestyles, which can include regular check-ups and treatment by a qualified doctor.

Treatment for anemia requires frequent blood tests and strict control over diet.

You might experience nausea, fatigue, pale-colored skin, brittle nails, and hair loss.

These symptoms might not be defined as being signs of anemia in women at first glance, but they are. And this is never a good thing because it could lead to some complications as well as heart issues!


Suffering from this disease the doctor will take a simple blood sample to determine the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. The number, size, and shape of the RBC will determine the type of anemia.

It is possible that the number of RBCs in the whole blood is also measured, this test is called hematocrit.

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How To Treat Anemia

In most cases, the treatment for pregnancy-induced anemia is simple: more iron. Your health care provider may prescribe a daily iron supplement to take in addition to your prenatal vitamin.

Take both, only with your docs okay, at different times of the day to ensure that you’re getting all your daily nutrients. For maximum results, take them with a glass of orange juice, but avoid the calcium-fortified kind or prune juice .

Keep in mind that timing is important. For one hour before you take your iron supplement and two hours after, avoid milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, spinach, whole grains, coffee and tea, since they can hinder iron absorption.

And in addition to taking your supplements, be sure your diet includes plenty of iron-rich foods, including poultry, leafy greens, lentils, beans and beef.

Be aware, too, that iron supplements can make nausea worse. If this is the case for you, try the standard treatments for morning sickness, including eating smaller, more frequent meals and drinking plenty of water.

You may also want to try taking your iron supplement right before bed, since you may be less likely to notice nausea when you’re asleep.

Since treatment depends on the cause, its important to talk with your doctor about your particular needs. In the rare case your anemia is due to a vitamin deficiency or illness, you may require folic acid supplements or other treatments to address the underlying disease.

Where Can I Find More Information

Having a folate ( folic acid ) deficit can lead to a low ...

If you find that you are interested in learning more about blood diseases and disorders, here are a few other resources that may be of some help:

Results of Clinical Studies Published in Blood

Search Blood, the official journal of ASH, for the results of the latest blood research. While recent articles generally require a subscriber login, patients interested in viewing an access-controlled article in Blood may obtain a copy by e-mailing a request to the .

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Infectious Causes Of Anemia

Infectious cause of anemia are more common in nonindustrialized countries. Anemia can be caused by infections such as parvovirus B-19, cytomegalovirus , HIV, hepatitis viruses, Epstein-Barr virus , malaria, babesiosis, bartonellosis, hookworm infestation, and Clostridium toxin. If the patientâs history suggests exposure to any of these infectious agents, appropriate laboratory studies should be performed.

Signs And Symptoms Of Anemia During Pregnancy

Early symptoms of anemia may be confused for normal pregnancy symptoms. You may not realize you have anemia until your doctor diagnoses you. There are many symptoms you can look out for to identify anemia early:

If any of these symptoms become overwhelming or you experience them with excessive bleeding, you should contact your doctor immediately.

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What Do I Need To Know About Iron Pills

Your doctor may recommend iron pills to help build up your iron levels. Do not take these pills without talking to your doctor or nurse first. Taking iron pills can cause side effects, including an upset stomach, constipation, and diarrhea. If taken as a liquid, iron supplements may stain your teeth.

You can reduce side effects from iron pills by taking these steps:

  • Start with half of the recommended dose. Gradually increase to the full dose.
  • Take iron in divided doses. For example, if you take two pills daily, take one in the morning with breakfast and the other after dinner.
  • Take iron with food .
  • If one type of iron pill causes side effects, ask your doctor for another type.
  • If you take iron as a liquid instead of as a pill, aim it toward the back of your mouth. This will prevent the liquid from staining your teeth. You can also brush your teeth after taking the medicine to help prevent staining.

Anemia During Pregnancy Treatment


For treating anemia, it is essential that you replenish the lost iron. Other than that in severe cases, blood transfusion or iron shots can treat anemia.

How to treat anemia in pregnancy? Make sure you eat iron-rich food and avoid iron countering diet elements.

Tea, beans and excess calcium reduces iron absorption. Caffeine during pregnancy inhibits iron absorption.

Any other gut problem such as Crohns Disease needs treatment for the cure of anemia.

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