Severe iron deficiency anemia in pregnancy is characterized by abnormal formation of small, pale red blood cells that impair the ability of the fetus to obtain adequate oxygen for proper growth and development and imperil its life and cause the mother extreme fatigue with increased risk of infection.
Q: Why does this anemia imperil the fetus and cause the mother extreme fatigue with increased risk of infection?
A: Severe iron deficiency anemia significantly impedes the ability of the mother’s blood to carry sufficient oxygen for both her needs and the unborn baby’s needs. In this anemia the blood cells do not have adequate hemoglobin which functions to carry oxygen from the mother’s lungs to her body. Of course, the fetus gets its oxygen only from the mother’s blood.
Red blood cell production and function are dependent on a sufficient level of iron in the body and also the ability to use iron to make hemoglobin in red blood cells.
Hemoglobin is a protein that binds oxygen in red blood cells to be carried by the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. In iron deficiency anemia, hemoglobin in females is below 12.5g/dl (normal range is 12.5g/dl to 16g/dl ).
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