The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated about 56 million of pregnant women worldwide are affected by anemia, and it is mainly caused by iron deficiency. Even in developed countries or regions, about 25% of pregnant women suffer from iron deficiency problem.
Iron is an essential element of pregnant women, in particular from 2nd trimester of pregnancy (starting from 4 months of pregnancy). Iron requirement is escalated to 10 folds, compared to primary stage of pregnancy. Sufficient intake of iron ensures a normal growth and brain development of fetus, it prevents of iron deficiency anemia and post-partum anemia of pregnant women as well.
WHO recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 60mg iron for pregnant women. However, an average of 15mg iron is normally absorbed from diet, that is far below the RDA of 60mg. Therefore, iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women is prevalent, and it is estimated approximately 50% of women do not have adequate iron storage for pregnancy!
Apart from iron, folic acid is also important for both pregnant women and fetus, folic acid prevents iron deficiency anemia of pregnant women and neural tube defects of fetus. Thus, folic acid supplement is recommended for both women who plan for pregnancy and pregnant women as well.
Consequences of Iron Deficiency for women during pregnancy:
- For fetus: Brain development delay, low birth weight, preterm delivery, increased morbidity/mortality, etc
- For pregnant women: Fatigue, postpartum depression, decline of immune system, postpartum anemia, etc