Iron is one of the essential mineral salts for the proper functioning of the body.
It plays a fundamental role in the formation of hemoglobin contained in red blood cells, in the formation of myoglobin contained in muscles and in the formation of many enzymes essential to the functioning of the body.
Pregnant women, children… Several populations are particularly affected by iron deficiency in France.
Iron is an essential mineral for the body: it is involved in the manufacture of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and helps carry oxygen to organs.
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia. It occurs when the level of hemoglobin in the blood is below the normal level, which varies with a person’s sex and age.
To avoid anemia, men need about 1 mg of iron per day, while women need 2 mg between puberty and menopause, due to menstruation.
Iron deficiency is the most widespread disorder in the world, affecting more than 1.5 billion people.
In France, this disease affects between 20 and 30% of children in the first three years of life.
The populations most at risk of developing iron deficiency are children: their need is 0.96 mg/day from 3 to 12 months.
Among them, the most affected are twins, premature babies and babies of mothers who have had several children less than two years apart.
Adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years of age are also affected by their significant growth, with a need of 1.82 mg/day in boys and 2.02 mg in girls, a rate that is explained by the onset of first menstruation.
Women are more affected by iron deficiency because their iron needs are higher than men’s. Namely: a blood loss of 200 ml corresponds to a loss of about 100 mg of iron.
Therefore, nonmenopausal women with heavy or long periods have a greater need for iron than menopausal women.
A quarter of non-menopausal women are iron deficient and 5% are anaemic.
Pregnant women are also more affected by iron deficiency with growth of the fetus and placenta and significant increase in blood volume.
The iron needs increase as the deadline approaches: 1 mg/d from 0 to 3 months; 4.4 mg/d from 3 to 6 months and 6.3 mg/d from 6 to 9 months.
In order not to lack iron, it is advisable to have a diversified and balanced diet, as it provides 10 to 15 mg of iron per day. The body only absorbs between 5 and 10%. Foods rich in iron are..:
Other possible causes of iron deficiency are invisible but prolonged blood loss from gastrointestinal, gynecological or urological causes such as stomach ulcers or uterine fibroids.
There may also be visible and gastrointestinal blood loss, such as rectal bleeding or heavy menstrual bleeding.
Iron deficiency, which can cause anemia, negatively impacts a child’s psychomotor development and immune defenses. In adults, iron deficiency is usually asymptomatic, but can become more severe and cause :
The risks for pregnant women are serious: low birth weight and higher mortality rates of newborns, among others.
After asking questions and examining the patient, the physician may prescribe a dose of serum ferritin if an iron deficiency is suspected.
“A reduction in serum ferritin is sufficient to affirm the diagnosis of an iron deficiency,” says the Haute autorité de santé in a 2017 press release. The sample is taken by drawing blood, usually in the crease of the elbow.
In the case of iron supplements, the physician may advise an adapted diet, prescribe food supplements to be taken orally or in syrup for children and, in rare cases, by infusion or blood transfusion.
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