For women with pregnancy-related anemia linked to iron deficiency, intravenous administration of iron increases hemoglobin faster and more effectively than iron pills, says a Turkish study.
Since oral iron replacement is generally effective, safe, and cheap, it is the first choice for treatment for iron-deficiency anemia, Dr. Ragip Atakan Al and colleagues acknowledge in their report. 'However, it seems that intravenous iron sucrose is a safe and effective alternative to oral iron in treatment of iron deficiency anemia of pregnancy,' they state.
The report has been published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, December 2005.
Normal hemoglobin levels for a woman are about 12-14 units. In the current study, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the investigators treated 90 pregnant women with hemoglobin levels between 8 and 10.5 units, using either oral iron complex or I.V. iron sucrose.
Average hemoglobin and iron stores "throughout the treatment were significantly higher in the intravenously administered iron group than in the orally administered iron group," report Dr. Al's team at the Ankara Etlik Maternity and Women's Health Teaching Hospital.
Hemoglobin concentration increased significantly faster in the I.V. group compared with the oral group, and a significantly greater number of women in the I.V. group achieved the hemoglobin target after 4 weeks of treatment and at delivery.
Both treatments were well tolerated with no serious adverse drug reactions reported.
I.V. iron 'restores blood stores more rapidly and a prompt increase in hemoglobin may be achieved,' the researchers point out. Moreover, it may reduce the need for blood transfusion in pregnant women who have severe anemia near term.
They conclude that intravenously administered iron 'may be considered an alternative to oral iron in the treatment of pregnant women with severe iron deficiency anemia during the third trimester.'