Iron deficiency during pregnancy may have serious repercussions if ignored. When a mother is iron deficient, there is a high chance that her baby will be born with iron deficiency as well. And iron deficiency can be dangerous for unborn babies.
According to a study published by Contemporary OB/GYN on iron-deficiency anemia in pregnancy, iron deficiency is responsible for 50% of anemia cases in women during pregnancy. Additionally, the study has also found that 8.8% of pregnant women in the United States suffer from anemia during their pregnancies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified anemia as mild (hemoglobin level, 10-11 g/dL), moderate (hemoglobin level, 8.5-10 g/dL), and severe (hemoglobin level < 8.5 g/dL). This risk increases as the pregnancy progresses, and many women become severely iron deficient by their third trimester.
In this article, we will discuss everything about anemia in pregnancy, from its impact on mothers and babies to the treatment options available.
Anemia is a condition that occurs when your body lacks or cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen to your vital organs. While the noticeable implications are extreme weakness and fatigue, the unnoticeable dangers are much worse. For one thing, untreated anemia can cause heart failure and death in severe cases.
You may exhibit one or more of these symptoms depending upon the severity of anemia.
Your doctor will ask you to go for a blood count in the first and third trimesters of your pregnancy. If the hemoglobin levels are subpar, you will be asked to obtain treatment for anemia in pregnancy. This may take the form of oral iron therapy or iron infusions.
Oral iron therapy is usually the first line of treatment, where you have to take oral iron supplements. Even in a normal pregnancy, you would require to take around 30 mg of iron per day to keep up with the growing fetus and its needs. However, these may be inadequate if your iron levels are low. If your body reacts negatively to the oral supplements or if you are seriously anemic, you might have to opt for intravenous iron infusions.
Iron infusions during pregnancy involve the use of an intravenous needle to provide your body with the necessary iron through your veins. This procedure is usually performed at a specialized clinic or a hospital.
A doctor or a trained healthcare worker uses a needle to insert a tube attached to a bag of iron solution into the veins of your arm.
The solution may be pumped into your body or left to drip into your vein. As this is an intravenous procedure, you may feel a tiny pinch in your skin and also a small pressure where the intravenous needle is inserted.
The procedure may be completed within an hour or may take up to three hours, depending on the type of infusion being administered to you.
Some amount of muscle pain or feeling a little tired after the infusion is normal.
It is natural to feel worried if you are diagnosed with anemia during pregnancy and are asked to take intravenous iron infusions. You may have many questions about its side effects on your body and whether it is safe for your baby.
Well, you may put your worries to rest. This type of treatment is perfectly safe for most pregnant women and is one of the most effective forms of treatment for anemia in pregnancy. Despite this, most doctors will first recommend a course of oral iron supplements before asking you to opt for an intravenous iron infusion, as the latter may bear a minuscule risk of allergic reactions or staining.
However, if you are severely anemic or your body needs an iron boost quickly, and an iron transfusion seems to be the most effective option for you, a healthcare professional is most likely to administer a small amount of the solution as a test dose. This shall help your body prepare for side effects, if any.
Concisely, anemia or iron deficiency is more of a threat to your pregnancy than intravenous iron infusions are.
According to research from BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth conducted in New Zealand and Australia confirm the popularity of iron infusions during pregnancy. More and more women of reproductive age seem to be opting for this line of treatment after experiencing major gastrointestinal side effects with oral iron supplements or as a result of chemotherapy.
The ease of intravenous iron infusions and the greater absorption of iron in the body following the procedure also make it a more efficient option. Infusions are more common during the third trimester of pregnancy, although some women may be recommended iron infusions from their first trimester itself.
You must understand that iron infusions do not heal anemia completely but offer a temporary rise in your iron levels. As anemia can also result due to blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma, you need to consult a cancer specialist before undergoing iron infusion treatment.
What intravenous iron infusions will ensure, however, is a significant rise in hemoglobin levels within two to four weeks of the treatment. This means that you shall have the iron levels you need for a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby. Usually, you need just one iron infusion during your pregnancy. Your iron levels will be regularly monitored to determine how many infusions you require.
Get the Safest Iron Infusion Therapy While You Are Pregnant at COHA
At Chesapeake Oncology Hematology Associates (COHA), we have got a team of experienced oncologists and hematologists who can administer iron infusion in our safest and super specialty medical center. For more information about iron infusions in pregnancy and to get started with one, request an appointment today!
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