Less than half of individuals have their ferritin levels checked during pregnancy, and among those who do, half have low iron levels, according to a study published online Aug. 30 in Blood Advances. Black and Hispanic women have a 20 percent higher risk of iron deficiency anemia, which can cause pregnancy complications, stress on the heart, fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, etc.
“These data highlight gaps in prenatal care and issues of health equity that warrant harmonization of obstetrical guidelines to recommend routine ferritin testing in pregnancy,” the authors write.
Causes of Anemia during Pregnancy
A fall in hemoglobin levels during pregnancy can cause a greater expansion of plasma volume and an increase in red cell volume. This disproportion between the rates of increase for, plasma and erythrocytes can affect pregnant women the most during their second trimester.
In this case, there may not be enough iron to feed the blood supply of the growing fetus without a supplement.
You may also be at risk of developing anemia during pregnancy if you:
- Have two closely spaced pregnancies
- Are pregnant with more than one baby
- Are vomiting frequently due to morning sickness
- Don’t consume enough iron
- Have a heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual flow
- Have a history of anemia before your pregnancy
How does anemia affect the baby?
If you have a severe case of anemia, your baby can be affected in the following ways:
- premature birth
- having a low birth weight
- infant death immediately before or after birth
Additionally, anemia can put you at a higher risk of