Anaemia: why is it still affecting women?

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting both low- and high-income countries. Although it is an easy problem to fix, it remains unfixed.

Our bodies need iron to function. Too little leads to anaemia, limiting the body’s ability to carry and deliver oxygen. Well-known symptoms of iron deficiency include poor concentration, fatigue and mood changes.

Women are more affected by iron deficiency anaemia than men because they lose iron during their periods and need more when pregnant or breastfeeding. In the UK, one in four women becomes anaemic in pregnancy. In low-income countries, it’s one in two.

The consequences of iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy are alarming. In cases of severe anaemia, our research found that the condition can double the risk of death for the mother. In less severe cases, iron deficiency anaemia can lead to low birth weight, early delivery and poor brain development in babies.

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I’m permanently anemic due to a genetic disorder called Thalassemia minor. I’m lucky it’s not thalassemia major, because that’s much more dangerous and requires blood transfusions. But I can’t take iron supplements, because my body won’t absorb he iron and I’ll just end up getting iron toxicity for having too much iron floating free in my body.


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