How I treat anemia in pregnancy: iron, cobalamin, and folate.
Anemia of pregnancy, an important risk factor for fetal and maternal morbidity, is considered a global health problem, affecting almost 50% of pregnant women. In this article, diagnosis and management of iron, cobalamin, and folate deficiencies, the most frequent causes of anemia in pregnancy, are discussed. Three clinical cases are considered. Iron deficiency is the most common cause. Laboratory tests defining iron deficiency, the recognition of developmental delays and cognitive abnormalities in iron-deficient neonates, and literature addressing the efficacy and safety of IV iron in pregnancy are reviewed. An algorithm is proposed to help clinicians diagnose and treat iron deficiency, recommending oral iron in the first trimester and IV iron later. Association of folate deficiency with neural tube defects and impact of fortification programs are discussed. With increased obesity and bariatric surgery rates, prevalence of cobalamin deficiency in pregnancy is rising. Low maternal cobalamin may be associated with fetal growth retardation, fetal insulin resistance, and excess adiposity. The importance of treating cobalamin deficiency in pregnancy is considered. A case of malarial anemia emphasizes the complex relationship between iron deficiency, iron treatment, and malaria infection in endemic areas; the heightened impact of combined etiologies on anemia severity is highlighted.