Antepartum and postpartum anemia: a narrative review.

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Antepartum anemia impacts over a third of pregnant women globally and is associated with major maternal and perinatal morbidity, including peripartum transfusion, maternal death, maternal infection, preterm birth, and neurodevelopmental disorders among offspring. Postpartum anemia impacts up to 80% of women in low-income and rural populations and up to 50% of women in Europe and the United States, and is associated with postpartum depression, fatigue, impaired cognition, and altered maternal-infant bonding. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of maternal anemia because of insufficient maternal iron stores at the start of pregnancy, increased pregnancy-related iron requirements, and iron losses due to blood loss during parturition. Anemic women should undergo testing for iron deficiency; a serum ferritin cutoff level of 30 μg/L is commonly used to diagnose iron deficiency during pregnancy. The first-line treatment of iron deficiency is oral iron. Intravenous iron is a consideration in the following scenarios: a poor or absent response to oral iron, severe anemia (a hemoglobin concentration <80 g/L), rapid treatment for anemia in the third trimester, women at high risk for major bleeding (such as those with placenta accreta), and women for whom red blood cell transfusion is not an option. Given the high prevalence of antepartum and postpartum anemia, anesthesiologists are advised to partner with other maternal health professionals to develop anemia screening and treatment pathways.

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Authors: A J Butwick, N McDonnell