Anemia: Dangerous to baby-to-be?

I am 26 weeks pregnant and just began taking a supplement for low iron. I have been experiencing tiredness and dizziness for almost a week now. Could my low iron levels have have harmed my baby-to-be?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Don't worry about your baby and maternal iron deficiency in an otherwise normal pregnancy. Babies are very efficient iron absorbers. They take all they need from the mother, sometimes leaving her depleted.

Normal blood levels range from 12 to 14, but during pregnancy, we often see them in the 10 to 11 range. There is some debate among providers about whether women actually need iron supplements for simple iron deficiency. Dietary sources of iron are best: red meats, liver, egg yolks, dried fruits, legumes (e.g., chickpeas), green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals such as Total and Product 19. The lowest levels are seen at the peak of the greatest blood volume increase, which occurs at 26 to 32 weeks. The levels tend to rise again toward term.

Some iron supplements contain Vitamin C, which assists in the absorption of iron, and another ingredient that is thought to enhance the absorption of Vitamin B12. There are three kinds iron salt The best is ferrous fumarate, which is well tolerated by the stomach and can be taken between meals, when absorption is best. But two other types -- ferrous sulfate and ferrous gluconate -- are less expensive. They can be purchased as generics for a few cents per tablet.

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