One in two of India’s pregnant women anaemic: Study
Iron deficiency affects one in five of the world’s population and is more prevalent cause of Anemia in pregnancy, where as Half of India’s pregnant women are anemic. This increases the risk of maternal mortality as well as chances of delivering babies with low birth weight, according to a study.
The study by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) shows rising incidence of malnutrition-related diseases among women, as compared to men and children. While incidence of overweight and obesity in women have increased by 34% over past three decades, in men it has risen by 27%, says the study.
Thyroid disorders and iron deficiency (ID) are associated with obstetrical and foetal complications in expecting mothers. Research says iron deficiency increases the risk of thyroid disorder as well as increases complications such as miscarriages and pre-term births. Iron is essential for the normal functioning of thyroid peroxidase (TPO-abs) — a protein required for the correct functioning of the thyroid. Pregnant women need to make enough thyroid hormone for the full development of the brain of the foetus. This is critical during the first trim-semester when the foetus has not developed a thyroid gland of its own, said the paper.
Experts say the iron requirements in adolescent girls and pregnant women increase significantly because of physical growth like onset of menstruation in adolescent girls. A diet low on nutrition and iron content can make women susceptible to iron deficiency anemia and its detrimental effects.
GAIN, in its latest study, points out that anemia in pregnancy not only poses threat of birth of low weight baby but also stunted growth of such children. Stunting in children is the result of under-nutrition in the womb and it is also associated with poor brain development and educational performance.
Symptoms of Anemia in Pregnancy
The symptoms for anemia may be mistaken as symptoms of pregnancy as they are very similar. Some pregnant women are completely unaware they’re anemic until it’s conformed by blood test. But as the condition progresses symptoms becomes more prominent, one may experience:
- Excessive tiredness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- A rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Pale skin
- A numb or cold feeling in hands and feet
- A low body temperature
How Anemia in Pregnancy is Diagnosed
Anemia can be diagnosed through complete blood count (CBC) test, which tabulates the number of various cells that make up the blood. If low RBC count is an indication of anemia. This test is standard during early pregnancy —first trimester and again around 28 weeks.
Risks of Anemia in Pregnancy
Even if you’ve been anemic throughout your pregnancy, it’s rare for a baby to have an iron deficiency too. Because the fetus takes all the iron he or she needs to thrive first. However if anemia is left untreated, it can become severe, which may cause poor fetal growth, preterm birth or low birth weight as well as increasing your risk of needing a blood transfusion during delivery or having postpartum depression. The doctors check the iron deficiency early in pregnancy and then checks again during the third trimester and effectively treat anemia before it causes a bigger problem.
How to treat Anemia in Pregnancy
In most cases, the treatment for pregnancy-induced anemia is simple: More iron. Healthcare providers prescribe a daily iron supplement to take in addition to other prenatal vitamin. For maximum results, iron supplements is recommended to be consumed with a glass of orange juice (vitamin C helps boost iron absorption) or prune juice (which helps with the constipation, that one may get due to extra iron). Also it is advisable to wait a while before drinking milk, since the calcium in dairy products can hinder iron absorption; avoid coffee and tea should be avoided while taking iron supplement. In addition to iron supplements, the diet includes plenty of iron-rich foods, including
- Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, etc.)
- Dried fruit (apricots, prunes, raisins, figs)
- Eggs (yolk)
- Meat (red meat, liver, etc.)
- Fortified cereals and grains
Iron supplements at times make nausea worse. If this is the case for you, try the standard treatments for morning sickness, including eating smaller, more frequent meals (six snack-size meals instead of three big ones) and drinking plenty of water.
Since treatment depends on the cause, it’s 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 B12 or folic acid supplements or treatment of the underlying disease.
How to prevent Anemia in Pregnancy
While not all cases of anemia are preventable, getting enough iron in diet help to avoid the condition. Though anemia during pregnancy can be scary, rest assured it’s also easily diagnosed and treated.
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