Thalassemia minor during pregnancy can cause weakness and fatigue. For this purpose, this section lists the risk factors for thalassemia minor, the symptoms, and what you can do to prevent it. If you are pregnant and at risk for thalassemia minor (a condition in which healthy red blood cells are not enough to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues), you need to know about its occurrence during pregnancy and ways to prevent it.
What causes thalassemia minor during pregnancy?
The body uses iron to make hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues). During pregnancy, pregnant women need twice as much iron as non-pregnant women. This need for iron causes more blood to reach the fetus for oxygen. If you are iron deficient during pregnancy, you may have thalassemia minor in your body.
What effect does thalassemia minor have on the fetus during pregnancy?
How does thalassemia affect my pregnancy?
A gynecologist, midwife, and hematologist treat thalassemia.
Having thalassemia can lead to anemia during pregnancy. To check iron levels, if you need to take iron tablets, your doctor will perform tests and prescribe this medicine.
Beta thalassemia major is more likely to cause pregnancy complications. If you have beta thalassemia, you are more likely to develop diabetes. If you have diabetes, your doctor will refer you to a specialist gestational diabetes clinic.
Hypothyroidism is another possible complication of thalassemia. During pregnancy, your doctor regularly monitors thyroid function and adjusts medications accordingly. Most pregnant women who have previously had hypothyroidism should increase the dose because the thyroid gland needs to produce more hormones during pregnancy.
If you have shrunk your spleen due to thalassemia, pregnancy can expose your body to blood clots, and blood clots pose minor risks to you.
Consumption of folic acid
Thalassemia may increase the risk of neural tube defects in your child. Whether you have thalassemia or a carrier, your doctor recommends taking 5 mg of folic acid daily during pregnancy.
You may need a blood transfusion in the last weeks of pregnancy to prepare for birth. If you usually have chemotherapy to control iron accumulation due to blood transfusions in your body, this also adjusts to your needs.
What are the risk factors for thalassemia minor during pregnancy?
The risk of developing thalassemia minor during pregnancy increases if you have the following conditions:
- Having two short pregnancies
- Pregnancy with more than one fetus
- Persistent vomiting
- Iron supplementation is not enough
- Having a heavy period before pregnancy
- History of anemia before pregnancy
What are the symptoms of thalassemia minor during pregnancy?
- Pale or yellow skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or distraction
- Chest pain
- Cold hands and feet
Keep in mind that the symptoms of thalassemia minor are often similar to the general signs of pregnancy. Whether you have symptoms or not, if you are worried about fatigue or other symptoms, you may need to have a blood test during pregnancy and talk to your local healthcare provider.
Diagnosis of fetal thalassemia in pregnancy:
Thalassemia is transmitted to the fetus through the parents. If you or your partner have thalassemia, your child has a quarter chance of not being pregnant and having the disease, or a second chance of being pregnant and having no symptoms, or a quarter chance of developing thalassemia major.
If you and your partner have thalassemia, one of the following tests is recommended to diagnose the fetus.
In this method, after the 15th week of pregnancy, amniotic fluid is tested around your baby, with which you can find out the severity of the baby’s illness. In diagnosing more severe forms of thalassemia, some parents decide to terminate a pregnancy for fear of their child’s quality of life.
How is my baby tested during pregnancy?
Severe, long-term anemia can affect your baby’s nutritional balance. For this reason, the medical team monitors your baby’s growth during pregnancy by performing a scan. Your doctor will recommend a scan every four to 24 weeks to check your baby’s development.
How does thalassemia affect the birth of my baby?
If you have thalassemia major or moderate, your doctor will closely monitor you and your baby during delivery. If you have a severe type of thalassemia, your doctor will advise you to watch the third stage of labor when the placenta is removed after delivery. Stage 3 management protects you from severe bleeding.
You will have fewer blood clots after giving birth. Daily injection of low molecular weight heparin prevents blood clotting for a week. Heparin is associated with the treatment of thalassemia for safe breastfeeding.
How can thalassemia minor be prevented and treated during pregnancy?
Prenatal vitamins usually contain iron. Taking iron-containing vitamins before birth can help prevent and treat thalassemia minor during pregnancy. In some cases, your healthcare provider may also prescribe a separate iron supplement. A woman needs 27 mg of iron daily during pregnancy. Also, proper nutrition can help prevent thalassemia minor during pregnancy.
Some foods that contain iron include:
- Red Meat
- Lean chicken and fish
- Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
- Plum juice
- Dried beans
Iron in animal products such as meat is easily absorbed, boosting iron absorption from plant sources and supplements, eating them with food, or drinking plenty of vitamin C such as orange juice, tomato juice, or strawberries. Avoid calcium-fortified products if you take iron supplements with orange juice. Calcium is indeed an essential nutrient during pregnancy, but it may also reduce iron absorption.
How is thalassemia minor treated during pregnancy?
It can be treated by taking a prenatal vitamin and performing tests to determine other possible causes. In some cases, it is necessary to see a specialist (hematologist) to treat blood disorders.
Other types of iron pills may be prescribed if the cause of thalassemia is iron deficiency, a history of gastric bypass, and minor bowel surgery.