May 20, 2013 | 11:37 PM (BD Time)
20 May, 2013 Monday
Anaemia during pregnancy
Shirin Khan :
Anaemia is a lack of red blood cells, which can lead to a lack of oxygen-carrying ability, causing unusual tiredness.Pregnant women need more iron and often become anaemic as a result. The deficiency occurs either through the reduced production or an increased loss of red blood cells. These cells are manufactured in the bone marrow and have a life expectancy of approximately four months. To produce red blood cells, the body needs (among other things) iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid. If there is a lack of one or more of these ingredients, anaemia will develop.
Women often become anaemic during pregnancy because the demand for iron and other vitamins is increased. The mother must increase her production of red blood cells and, in addition, the foetus and placenta need their own supply of iron, which can only be obtained from the mother.
In order to have enough red blood cells for the foetus, the body starts to produce more red blood cells and plasma. It has been calculated that the blood volume increases approximately 50 per cent during the pregnancy, although the plasma amount is disproportionately greater.
This causes a dilution of the blood, making the haemoglobin concentration fall. This is a normal process, with the haemoglobin concentration at its lowest between weeks 25 and 30.
The pregnant woman may need additional iron supplementation, and a blood test called serum ferritin is the best way of monitoring this.
If the woman is otherwise healthy, she will rarely have any symptoms of anaemia unless her haemoglobin (red pigment) is below 8g/dl.
The first symptoms will be tiredness and paleness.If the anaemia is severe (less than 6g of haemoglobin per decilitre of blood), it may cause chest pain .
To avoid anaemia during pregnancy be sure to get a varied diet.If planning a pregnancy, talk to a doctor or midwife about food and supplements - if possible, before becoming pregnant.Good sources of iron are beef, wholemeal bread and cereals, eggs, spinach and dried fruit.To absorb the maximum amount of iron from the diet, it will help to also eat a diet rich in vitamin C. Raw vegetables, potatoes, lemon, lime and oranges are all good sources of vitamin C.A pregnant woman should take notice of her body's signals and consult a doctor if any symptoms occur.
Apart from the clinical symptoms, anaemia is usually detected during antenatal screening. Blood tests are usually done at the first consultation, and again in the second half of pregnancy. A description of the red blood cells - their different form and colour will be included in the result of the blood test.
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