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Jul 11, 2019 in Medicine

Iron Deficiency Anemia in Women

Iron is one of the most significant nutrients in the human body because of the numerous functions it performs.  Yehuda and Mostofsky (2010) affirm that iron performs vital functions in the body including the transfer of oxygen to the tissues from lungs and enzyme reactions in different tissues. However, iron deficiency anemia remains a key public health nutrition issue   in the United States, especially among women who have attained the childbearing age.  Short and Domagalski (2013) affirm that its notable symptoms include include extreme fatigue among individuals, dizziness, pale skin, frequent headaches, and muscle weakness. The most affected women are those who experience heavy periods every month and pregnant women. This is especially because they tend to lose a lot of blood every time they have their menses.  With this issue in place, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and Centers of Disease Research have taken the active role of trying to find lasting solutions to it. For instance, both agencies recommend that women should be given iron supplements to improve their iron measure in cases where they experience deficiencies. This essay explicates iron deficiency anemia in women including an in depth description of the nutrient, key objectives, a list of recommendations by agencies in the U.S., and the effect of these recommendations on women as the target population. 

Description of the Nutrient (Iron)

Source

Iron as a nutrient could be derived from a diverse number of sources.  Pillitteri (2013) explains that some of the main sources that could provide the nutrient include iron-rich foods such as fish, spinach, soya products, pumpkin seeds, iron-rich clay, red meat, chicken meat, and kidney beans. These are some of the basic sources of the nutrient and they ensure that individuals have adequate supply of iron in their systems. 

 
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Physiological Function 

Accordingly, iron performs a number of physiological functions that ensure proper performance of the body.  Anderson and McLaren (2012) reiterate that the first relevant physiological function of iron is the contribution to the generation of red blood cells and the subsequent formation of hemoglobin. In tandem with this function, iron ensures that oxygen is transported from the lungs to the rest of the body while taking carbon dioxide from the cells back to the lungs to be exhaled from the body. 

Another critical physiological function of iron is the generation of enzymes, some of which are helpful in the conversion of blood sugar into energy while others operate as antioxidants in the body that ensure the body is effectively protected from free radicals. The key antioxidants that depend on iron for their reactions and protection of the body include catalase and peroxidase. 

Anderson and McLaren (2012) opine that it acts as a transport channel for electrons within the cells especially those in the form of cytochromes. The absence of iron impairs this process and could lead to the aggravation in symptom and death. 

Iron also plays an instrumental role in the formation of neurotransmitters and connective tissues in the brain. This promotes effective cognitive function among individuals. The brain is able to develop and function appropriately in the presence of iron and the generated neurotransmitters. 

Lastly, iron is critical in the healthy mineralization, development, and repair of bones in cases of breakage. The body functions well and promotes movements in cases where bones have been effectively strengthened, and this is always possible with the presence of adequate iron in the system. 

High-Risk Population  

One of the high-risk populations for iron deficiency anemia is women at the childbearing age, especially those who experience heavy periods every month. They are at a high-risk of suffering from iron deficiency anemia because of the understanding that they lose a lot of blood in the course of their monthly periods. 

Pregnant women are the second category of the high-risk population.  Killip, Bennett, and Chambers (2007) are of the view that pregnant women are at a high risk because they require twice the supply of iron they have. This is needed to proper growth of the fetus. 

Interaction With Another Nutrient 

Significant observations have been in relation to the interaction between iron and calcium. Calcium interacts with iron by readily inhibiting its absorption.  Al-Sayes, Gari, Qusti, Bagatian, and Abuzenadah (2011) are of the view that the interaction between iron and calcium tends to raise concerns because increased in takes of calcium are always feared to lead to iron deficiency because of reduced rates of absorption. Nevertheless, this concern is addressed with the assertion that hematological measures of iron among human beings have not been highly affected with the increasing intake of calcium. The reason for this is that the inhibition tends to take place for only a shorter period. 

Key Objectives

In line with the views of  Pillitteri (2013), the first objective will entail the assessment of the knowledge about the key causes of iron deficiency anemia among women. In line with this objective, the understanding of factors that contribute to the development of iron deficiency anemia among both pregnant and other women in the childbearing age will be assessed in the population. 

  • The second key objective is to understand the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia among women in the United States of America. This entails getting the statistical prevalence and whether the condition is becoming a national concern. 
  • The third notable objective is to determine the implementation of the suggested recommendations to ensure that increasing cases of iron deficiency among women is reduced significantly across the country. 
  • The last key objective is to understand any prevention mechanism put in place to prevent the emergence and prevalence of iron deficiency anemia across the country. 

A List and Description of Various Recommendations

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has been on the forefront of coming up with relevant recommendations to address the problem of iron deficiency anemia among women. More so, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have not been left behind in issuing assistive recommendations for women vulnerable to iron deficiency anemia. 

According to Pullen (2015), the first key recommendation is the routine screening of pregnant women who exhibit symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. This recommendation implies that pregnant asymptomatic women should be screened at frequent intervals to monitor the changes in the level of iron in their bodies. It is clear that frequent screening presents the opportunity for any form of treatment and continuous regulation of the iron nutrient in cases where it falls below the expected levels in the body. Screening ensures that the balance of iron their bodies is maintained at constant levels hence avoiding risks to the fetus and the mother. Affected women should always avail themselves for screening sessions to ensure they are effectively helped in dealing with iron deficiencies during their pregnancy. 

The second recommendation is that women should be offered iron supplementation routinely.  Al-Sayes, Gari, Qusti, Bagatian, and Abuzenadah (2011) affirm that this means that they should be given iron supplements as they are exposed to the risk of iron deficiency. These iron supplements could be administered to these women in different ways including intravenous administration or oral administration. Nevertheless, these supplements should be given based on the age and the risk level of the individual. This will ensure that they do not suffer undesirable consequences as a result of using supplements. 

Description of Consensus or Lack of Consensus

Areas of Consensus 

There has been a massive consensus on the recommendation of screening pregnant women and non-pregnant women with iron deficiency symptoms. Accordingly, organizations such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) hold the general view that both pregnant and non-pregnant women should always be availed with opportunities to screening to ensure they are in the best health condition possible.  Yehuda and Mostofsky (2010) explain that regular screening is needed to ensure that any possibilities of iron deficiency anemia are diagnosed among these women. This is the only best way to give them the chance to take care of the fetus through adequate supply of oxygen. More so, they get the opportunity to stay in good health themselves because they are able to be treated for the limited supply of iron in their bodies. This point of consensus has motivated more women to visit hospitals for regular checks on their iron supply in the body. 

The second area of consensus is the use of oral supplementation.  Pillitteri (2013) asserts that iron supplementation is one of the best ways that has been suggested by significant agencies such as U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the CDC, and Academy of Family Physicians. In their agreement with the point of oral administration, these organizations noted that pregnant women should be supplied with iron supplements on a daily basis. This ensures that they do not suffer potential deficiencies of iron in their system. For women in a childbearing age receiving periods on a monthly basis, oral supplementation should be done in such a way that they receive their iron supplements on a weekly basis. The distribution of iron supplements to these women on a weekly basis plays a helpful role in ensuring that the level of iron in their blood does not fall below the standard level. 

Areas that Lack Consensus 

Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lack consensus on the type of women that should be screened for iron deficiency anemia.  According to Anderson and McLaren (2012), the CDC recommends the screening of both non-pregnant women in the childbearing age while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends the screening of pregnant women only. The CDC believes that there could be a high risk of the condition among all women and they should be screened on the overall basis to ensure iron deficiency anemia is controlled. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not agree with the point, as it emphasizes the need to only focus on pregnant women as they stand the highest risk of being exposed to the deficiency of iron. These points of difference have led to increased research on the nature of iron deficiency among women and the best strategies of ensuring it is controlled in the best way possible. 

Analysis of How the Recommendations Affect the Target Population (Women) and Recommendation in Light of the Current Evidence

The suggested recommendations have had numerous on both pregnant and non-pregnant women at the childbearing age. The effects of these recommendations are as discussed below. 

One of the key effects of iron supplementation is the increment in hematological measures of iron among women. Pullen (2015) asserts that the subjection of women to daily and weekly iron supplements has been highly assistive in ensuring they boost their levels of iron. Most of them have been lucky to avoid worse scenarios of iron deficiencies because of the regular oral supplementation of the existing level. Compared to women who do not have access to supplements, this recommendation ensures that those who utilize it are not subjected to future deficiencies. For pregnant women, this has had positive effects especially in the growth of the fetus and the maintenance of their own health status. They have been able to live with a balanced level of iron in their bodies because of these supplements.

Another notable effect of these recommendations is the improvement in health outcome among women. It is worth noting that regular screening of women who exhibit symptoms of iron deficiency leads to the subsequent discovery of the condition leading to the adoption of relevant measures. For instance, they are able to be treated and cared for in the required manner once diagnosed with the deficiency. Improved clinical outcomes for pregnant women are appropriate because they are transferred to their children hence breeding a healthy population. Improved health outcomes are the desire of every person and these recommendations offer the easiest way to them. 

However, these recommendations do not come with only positive effects. The primary negative effect of using iron supplements on women is undesirable side effects.  Plante, Blanchet, and O'Brien (2007) note that these supplements do not always come with similar effects on all women, as some of them might be subjected to undesirable side effects including backaches, muscle pain, metallic taste, increased heartbeat, and skin rush. These effects differ among women based on their bodies and potential reactions that might occur due to the use of these supplements. This is why they need critical assessment before being allowed to use the different varieties of iron supplements. 

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In light of the current evidence, I recommend that deficiency iron anemia should be dealt with through dietary changes. As the problem becomes prevalent across the country, it would be vital for the government to communicate effective dietary change among women, especially those at the childbearing age and pregnant women. The suggested dietary change should be more focused on foods that are rich in iron to avoid any further cases of deficiency. In tandem with this recommendation, it would be critical for the population to be taught about the meals to be consumed and the regularity of consumption to boost the absorption of iron into their systems. The promotion of practices such as the eating of red meat would be assistive in ensuring that these women remain healthy with the regular supply of iron into their systems. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, deficiency iron anemia should be handled with the required level of urgency because it is capable of increasing the morbidity and mortality rates among women. The problem is prevalent among women at the childbearing age and those who are already pregnant. The lack of iron in their systems is quite dangerous because it could hamper the supply of oxygen to all parts of the body. More so, enzymatic reactions are also interrupted with the presence of diminished iron in the body. The recommendations on the use of iron supplements and regular screening of women should be adopted to ensure that iron deficiency anemia is combated. Most women should be encouraged to attend regular screening sessions that would give them the opportunity to understand their systems and any instances of iron deficiency. The use of iron supplements will boost the level of iron in the system hence ensuring they are as healthy as possible. This should be administered in a careful manner that would not have the potential to lead to exposure to risks among these women. In the overall sense, priority should be given to this issue to ensure that better treatment approaches are developed and practiced in the future. Consensus need to be built on future strategies that could be utilized in handling the problem among women.

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