FAQs on Iron Deficiency Anemia and Folate Deficiency among Filipino Pregnant Women
Dr. Raul Quillamor, president of the Perinatal Association of the Philippines, answers some important questions when it comes to iron deficiency and folate deficiency among expecting moms in the Philippines.
1. In the Philippines, how significant is iron deficiency among pregnant women?
Answer: There is a high prevalence of Anemia in the Philippines, and while decreasing, it is decreasing at a very slow pace:
Anemia prevalence: pregnant women – 1998 – 45.7%, 2003 - 43.9% Lactating mothers – 1998 – 45.5%, 2003 – 42.2% Children 6 mos – 11 mos - 1998 – 56.6%, 2003 – 66%
High IDA among young children is a reflection of the maternal status. If the mother was anemic while she was pregnant then this is passed on to the child.
2. How about Folate deficiency? Or is it folate deficiency or just folate supplementation?
Answer: There is no data on folate deficiency among women/pregnant mothers. In the Filipino diet, about 30-40% of folic acid is obtained from regular diet. This means that additional supplementation is necessary.
While local diet consists of vegetable, they are not good sources of folic acid especially since we have tendency to overcook our vegetable.
3. In your experience, what challenges are there to making a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anaemia in the general clinical setting (e.g. heme tests are not routine in many countries)?
4. How challenging is making a diagnosis of iron-deficiency anaemia in pregnant women, considering that pre-natal care may be less than ideal?
Answers: There is no routine testing done especially among the lower income groups because of financial constraints. Not all local health units have anemia testing instruments. For private individuals, testing is done but only during medical check-ups, which are not regular and only when patients feel they are sick.
What is currently done is a therapeutic trial. Iron and folic acid supplementation are given once a doctor finds out that his/her patient is pregnant.
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