The health-conscious world community has come to realize that anaemia, the majority of which is due to iron deficiency, has serious health and functional consequences. And that it is widespread especially among tropical low-income populations and that most of its nutritional component is controllable with a very high benefit/cost ratio. Women of reproductive age and pregnant, lactating as well as their infants and young children are
In response to the overwhelming evidence to this effect, world authorities have agreed that by the end of this century, anaemia in pregnant women must be reduced by 1/3. The more aggressive groups believe that with new approaches for the control of iron deficiency, a reachable goal is to reduce iron deficiency anaemia to overall levels below 10% in most populations.3
It is estimated that about 2.15billion people are iron deficient, and that this deficiency is severe enough to cause anaemia in 1.2 billion people globally.4About 90% of all anaemias have iron deficiency components. In the developing world, nearly ½ of the population is iron deficient.3
About, 47% of non-pregnant women and 60% of pregnant women have anaemia worldwide. In the developed world as a whole, anaemia prevalence during pregnancy averages 18%, and over 30% of these are iron deficient, with the poor mostly affected.2 Women in reproductive age and pregnant women are at high risk of incurring negative balance and iron deficiency due to their increased iron needs because of menstruation and demands of pregnancy. The average requirements of absorbed iron are estimated to be
1.36mg/day and 1.73mg/day among adult and teenage menstruating females respectively. However, 15% of adult menstruating women require more than 2.0mg/day, and 5% require as much as 2.84mg/day. The superimposition of menstrual losses and growth in menstruating teenage girls increase the demands for absorbed iron; 30% need more than 2.0mg/day; 10% as much as 2.65mg/day and 5% 3.2mg/day. These requirements are very difficult to meet even with good quality iron fortified diets.4
Iron needs are markedly increased during the second and especially during the third trimesters up to an average of 5.6mg/day (approximate range of 3.54 – 8.80mg/day).4This amount of iron needs cannot be met from food iron hence the importance of prepregnancy iron reserves upon which to draw and iron supplementation during pregnancy.