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What to know about anemia in pregnancy

Anemia is a condition in which there is a decrease in the number of healthy red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin circulating in the body. Anemia can affect anyone, but it is particularly common during pregnancy, when the body requires more blood cells and hemoglobin.

The body needs to make more blood during pregnancy, so it requires more iron and vitamins to produce a protein in red blood cells called hemoglobin. This protein transports oxygen to other cells in the body.

Many pregnant people lack the necessary amount of iron during their second and third trimesters. As a result, mild anemia is commonTrusted Source during pregnancy.

If anemia is severe during pregnancy, the developing baby may be at risk of anemia as an infant. People with anemia also have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely or delivering a low weight baby. Having anemia also increases the risk of blood loss during labor, which can make it more difficult to fight infection.

However, people can usually treat the condition by eating more iron-rich foods and taking iron supplements.

This article provides more information about anemia and the types that can occur during pregnancy. It also looks at the symptoms and risk factors and gives some prevention tips.

What is anemia?

A person with anemia has low levels of red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin contains iron and is the protein that gives blood its red color. It combines with oxygen from the lungs, which it transports throughout the body.

Anemia is the most common blood disease. There are more than 400 types of anemia, many of which have their own specific causes, treatments, and outlooks.

Anemia is usually an indicator of an underlying conditionTrusted Source. An accurate diagnosis is important because anemia can lead to a reduced amount of oxygen in the body’s tissue and worsen the progression of many coexisting diseases.

Types of anemia in pregnancy

Various types of anemia are common during pregnancy. These include:

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 is essential for the body to be able to multiply red blood cells. It occurs naturally in animal products, such as eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. It is also available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Fortified breakfast cereals and fortified nutritional yeasts are also good sources of vitamin B12.
Pernicious anemia is a form of anemia linked to vitamin B12 deficiency. About 15–25%Trusted Source of older adults with vitamin B12 deficiency have pernicious anemia.
This condition is an irreversible autoimmune disease that affects the mucous membrane of the stomach, called the gastric mucosa. It can cause gastric atrophy, a destruction of the cells in the protective stomach lining.
Pernicious anemia can also prevent the absorption of vitamin B12, even if a person is consuming adequate amounts of the vitamin. It is the most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency worldwide.
About 151 in 100,000 people in the United States have pernicious anemia, and it is more common among females and people of European ancestry.
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