Pregnancy Use

Oral iron preparations are considered safe in pregnancy; however, unnecessary iron supplementation can result in uncontrolled lipid peroxidation, predictive of adverse effects for mother and foetus. Supplementation should be prescribed on the basis of biological criteria, not on the assumption of anaemia alone (Lachili et a I 2001).

PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Iron Is an essential mineral that facilitates oxygen transport and storage in the body and is part of many enzyme systems.

• Haem iron, found in animal products, is absorbed 2-3-fold better than non-haem forms found in vegetable sources. However, iron absorption is influenced by many factors, such as other foods ingested, medicines and gastric activity.

• Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world and may occur with or without anaemia. Excessive blood loss during menstruation is the most common cause.

• Supplements are generally used to treat or prevent deficiency. Excess iron can be dangerous and lead to organ damage and death.

• As inappropriate iron supplementation can inhibit growth in non-deficient children and adversely affect pregnancy outcomes, iron status should be tested before administration.

• Correction of iron deficiency with or without anaemia may be achieved with lower doses than those recommended in some trials. In many case once weekly dosing of iron is as effective as daily dosing and improves compliance while reducing side-effects and cost.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this supplement do for me?

Iron is necessary for health and wellbeing. It facilitates oxygen transport and storage in the body and is part of many enzyme systems. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world.

When will it start to work?

Iron deficiency responds to supplementation within 2 weeks; however, 6-12 months may be required to build up the body's iron stores.

Are there any safety issues?

Excess iron can be dangerous and ultimately lead to severe organ damage and death.

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