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Recent dietary changes in industrialized countries have made it difficult for women to build up iron stores so that iron balance can be maintained in pregnancy. There is n o epidemiological evidence of reduced iron stores in normal women in the reproductive years—mainly because the only rapid, safe method available in the recent past was by examination of suitably stained bone marrow specimen. This is cumbersome, semiquantitative and unjustifiable in a healthy young women. N o w that a relatively simple non-invasive method of assessing iron stores is available by estimation of serum ferritin levels, perhaps this epidemiological evidence can be obtained.

The bulk of iron in the body is contained in the haemoglobin of the circulating red cells. M a n y women enter pregnancy with depleted stores. It is not surprising that iron deficiency in pregnancy a n d the Puerperium is so common when in addition to the demands of the fetus a n d blood loss at delivery the absolute red cell mass increases by 25%. Over the years there have been many studies which have proven without doubt 4 4 4 8 , 49 a n d that in that iron supplements prevent the development of a n a e m i a ' women on a good diet w h o are n o t apparently anaemic at booking, the mean haemoglobin level can be raised by oral iron therapy throughout pregnancy.

Dollery C. , Davies D . S. et al. (1976) M a t e r n a l and neonatal elimination of a m o b a r b i t a l after treatment of the m o t h e r with barbiturates during late pregnancy. Clin. Pharmacol. , 19, 271-275. 14. G o l u b M . and Kornetsky C. (1974) Seizure susceptibility and avoidance conditioning in adult rats treated prenatally with chlorpromazine. Dev. , 7, 79-88. 15. Gregg Ν . M . (1941) Congenital cataract following G e r m a n measles in the m o t h e r . Trans. Ophthalmol. Soc.

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