Anemia in pregnancy is a major cause of mortality in Indian women

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

Diet rich in nutrients and taking supplements appropriately can help prevent complications

New Delhi, June 3, 2018: As per a global report, about 48.1% of women in the reproductive age in India are anemic. This percentage is only few notches lower than that in the West African nations of Guinea and Nigeria. Reports also indicate that about 45% of the pregnant women in India were found to be anemic in 2016. As per the IMA, anemia in pregnancy in one of the top causes of maternal mortality in India and an issue that needs urgent action.

There are three types of anemia that can develop in a pregnant woman: iron-deficiency, folate deficiency, and Vitamin B 12 deficiency anemia. While it is normal to have mild anemia during pregnancy, more serious symptoms can indicate trouble and should be addressed at the earliest.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) said, “In anemia, the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues and to the baby. During pregnancy, there is more blood produced by the body to support the growth of the baby. In the absence of enough iron or certain other nutrients, the body might not be able to produce the amount of red blood cells it needs to make this additional blood leading to anemia. Anemia can leave you feeling tired and weak. Severe and untreated anemia can increase the risk of serious complications like preterm delivery. The risk of developing severe anemia during pregnancy is more if you are pregnant with multiples (more than one child); have had two pregnancies close together; vomit a lot because of morning sickness; are a pregnant teenager; don’t eat enough foods that are rich in iron; and have had anemia before you became pregnant.”

Some of the symptoms of pregnancy-related anemia include pale skin, lips, and nails; tiredness or weakness; dizziness; shortness of breath; rapid heartbeat; and trouble in concentrating. Many of these symptoms are also normal in any pregnancy and only a routine blood test will be able to clarify whether one has anemia.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal who is also the Group Editor of IJCP said, “It is imperative to not skip the prenatal vitamins prescribed during pregnancy as these contain iron. A woman needs about 27 milligrams of iron a day in pregnancy. It is possible to prevent iron deficiency anemia through good nutrition. Some rich sources of iron include lean red meat, poultry and fish. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, prune juice, dried beans and peas.”

Here are some tips to prevent anemia from becoming severe during pregnancy.

Eat iron-rich foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dried beans and fortified grains. The form of iron in meat products, called heme, is more easily absorbed than the iron in vegetables. If you are anemic and you ordinarily eat meat, increasing the amount of meat you consume is the easiest way to increase the iron your body receives.
Eat foods high in folic acid, such as dried beans, dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ and orange juice.
Eat foods high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and fresh, raw vegetables.
Cook in cast iron pots as this can add up to 80% more iron to your food.
Take your prenatal multivitamin and mineral pill which contains extra folate.