NUTRITION ARTICLE: Pregnant, lactating women can prevent, manage iron deficiency anemia

By Imelda Castro-Rivero


Post-partum maternal death is caused by anemia. Preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, increase of perinatal death are also results of iron deficiency anemia. And pregnant women must safeguard their health and nutrition to take care of themselves and their babies in their wombs. They have to prevent and manage iron deficiency anemia, according to Amparo Javillonar, the Ilocos Sur nutrition office.

Javillonar said that her office is monitoring the programs of every rural health unit in the province’s 34 towns and their barangays. Barangay health workers, the municipal and barangay nutrition scholars are helping pregnant residents get enough iron supplements and iron-rich foods to prevent iron deficiency anemia.

Pregnant and lactating women must eat, more than they did before,  iron-rich foods like dilis (dried fish), fish, liver, meat, malunggay, ampalya, papaya, squash and other fruits and vegetables.

Right after being diagnosed of pregnancy, women must daily take one ferrous sulfate tablet (iron with folic acid) . And when they are diagnosed as anemic, they must take two tables each day. They must continue taking a tablet daily for another two months after delivering their babies.  And if their babies have low birth weights, these babies must be given ferrous sulfate drops after two months.  Ferrous sulfate drops are given to normal infants from age six to 11 months.

Breastfeeding must be exclusive for the first six months. At six months, complementary feeding with foods that rich in iron must begin. But breastfeeding must continue for the first two years.

For a periodic supervised deworming children who are two years old and above must be brought to the health and nutrition centers every six months.

Javillonar emphasized that families must unite in preventing parasitic transmission. Feces must be kept out of the soil by using sanitary toilets. Each family member must be well trained in practicing personal hygience and environmental sanitation. Each must always use foot wear or slippers to avoid contact with the soil where the parasites may thrive.  And each must always wash hands before feeding, cooking, and after using the toilet or removing wastes.#