Along with menstrual blood loss, pregnancy is one of the most common causes of iron deficiency anemia in women of childbearing age.1 It may develop during pregnancy because the volume of blood expands and the woman needs more iron to support her baby’s growth.2 Serum ferritin and hemoglobin values fall during pregnancy in some women to levels equating IDA.3 And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a 3-fold increase in anemia from the first through the third trimester.2
Blood loss during and immediately after delivery appears to be the most important cause of iron deficiency anemia after pregnancy,4 although fetal iron needs undoubtedly contribute.
1 Trost LB, Bergfeld WF, Calogeras E. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(5):824-844.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommendations to prevent and control iron deficiency in the United States. MMWR Recomm Rep. 1998;47(RR-3):1-36. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/00051880.htm. Accessed April 3, 2013.
3 Milman N, Bergholt T, Byg KE, Eriksen L, Graudal N. Iron status and iron balance during pregnancy. A critical reappraisal of iron supplementation. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1999;78(9):749-757.
4 Chan SM, Nelson EA, Leung SS, Li CY. Postnatal iron status of Hong Kong Chinese women in a longitudinal study of maternal nutrition. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001;55(7):538-546.