Iron Deficiency Puts a Third of Pregnant Women at Risk

Iron Deficiency Puts a Third of Pregnant Women at Risk
Iron Deficiency Puts a Third of Pregnant Women at Risk

Around 35% of expectant mothers may be at risk of pregnancy complications - such as miscarriage or preterm birth - as a result of iron deficiency. This is the conclusion of a new study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

Iron deficiency is a common form of anemia, arising when the body does not have enough iron - a mineral present in a number of foods, including beef, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dried fruits.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30% of the global population is anemic, with most cases attributable to iron deficiency.

For adults aged 19-50 years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend a daily iron intake of 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women, rising to 27 milligrams during pregnancy, reported.

As a result of iron deficiency, the body produces insufficient levels of hemoglobin - a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. This can lead to tiredness and lack of energy, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, and a pale complexion.

According to lead author Dr. Kris Poppe - head of the Endocrine Clinic at Saint-Pierre University Hospital (ULB) in Brussels, Belgium - iron deficiency can be especially harmful for expectant mothers and their offspring; women need more iron during pregnancy in order to make the additional blood cells needed for fetal and placental growth.

Iron also aids the functioning of a protein called thyroid peroxidase (TPO), which is crucial for the production of thyroid hormone. Pregnant women need to produce enough thyroid hormone in order for their babies’ brains to fully develop. This is particularly important in the first trimester of pregnancy, when the fetus has yet to develop its own thyroid gland.

For their study, Poppe and colleagues set out to investigate the scale of iron deficiency during pregnancy, and how this might be linked to the development of thyroid problems.

To reach their findings, the researchers monitored 1,900 women during their first trimester of pregnancy.

Researchers found that 35% of the expectant mothers had iron deficiency, of whom10% had thyroid autoimmunity. Among pregnant women without iron deficiency, 6% had thyroid autoimmunity.

Researchers say their findings show that iron deficiency remains a major issue, and they suggest increased focus on identifying and addressing iron deficiency during pregnancy.