Pregnant women are routinely given prenatal
vitamin supplements by their OB/GYN. Many of
these supplements contain iron. Prenatal
vitamins containing iron should be avoided by
the pregnant woman with thalassemia, for whom
iron overload is a concern.
Folate : Folate (folic acid) is important
for cell growth and division. Therefore, during
pregnancy the demand for folate increases.
Folate supplementation is suggested for one
month prior to conception and through the 8th
week of gestation, at a minimum. This is thought
to help prevent megaloblastic anemia (anemia
marked by large, immature red blood cells) in
women with thalassemia.
Vitamin C : Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is
administered during iron chelation (usually 100
to 250 mg with each session of chelation) to
enhance the removal of iron. High doses of
ascorbic acid can release a large amount of
ionized iron and actually cause tissue damage,
particularly in the heart. Ascorbic acid should
be continued with chelation during pregnancy.
Larger doses should be avoided.
The health of the mother with thalassemia is
inter-related to the health of her developing
baby. Therefore, the importance of comprehensive
thalassemia care throughout pregnancy can not be
over-emphasized. In addition, the perinatologist
and genetic counselor are available to address
issues related specifically to the health of the