Iron deficiency during pregnancy can be a terrible problem for both mother and child, and new research has stated that it is important to treat it prior to conception.
Anemia is one of the most common blood disorders in the world. About one-third of all of the people on Earth suffer from anemia, and of those people, the most common cause is iron deficiency.
This may be repeating grade school biology, but we need red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. In order for the body to make enough red blood cells to do the job, iron is needed in one's diet. Without iron, the body can’t make enough blood, and that's when the real issues start.
Symptoms of anemia can be ignorable at first but can grow into a serious condition. Muscle weakness, fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and heart palpitations are all early warning signs of anemia. In severe cases, it can cause fainting, angina, or even a heart attack.
As common as anemia is around the world, it’s especially common for women, and doubly so during pregnancy. It’s hard enough getting iron for one, but providing iron for two can be a challenge.
And the consequences of iron deficiency for pregnant mothers can be dire. A recent study found that severe anemia can double the risk of death during delivery, while another study of 72,000 women in India found that anemia “significantly increased the risk of stillbirth.”
Anemia during pregnancy can also lead to early delivery, underweight babies, and poor brain development.
So what’s the solution? The simplest and most effective treatment is just iron supplements. Most doctors will even recommend these supplements for pregnant women regardless of whether they’re currently anemic just because it’s so easy to slip into anemia during pregnancy.
If you’re not a fan of the supplement solution, there are other ways of getting enough iron in your diet. Poultry such as chicken, duck, or turkey is high in iron, as are fish and various cuts of red meat.
For the vegans out there, plant-based iron sources include spinach, broccoli, lentils, beans, seeds, whole grains, and dried fruits. It’s a little harder to get enough iron through a strictly vegan diet, so iron supplements are usually taken in conjunction with these foods.