Iron deficiency is one of the most common problems worldwide in women’s health. Symptoms, including fatigue, decreased work function, susceptibility to infection and cardiovascular stress, have a significant impact on quality of life. The causes of iron deficiency in women vary in different regions and populations. Whereas in the developing world, causes such as parasitic infection and poor dietary iron intake play an important role, in higher income regions, poor iron intake and chronic blood loss associated with menstrual disorders are primarily responsible. The diagnosis of iron deficiency requires measurement of values in addition to the complete blood count, namely, ferritin, iron, and transferrin saturation. Results can help distinguish between different forms and causes of iron deficiency, especially when iron deficiency occurs in the setting of inflammatory disorders. Therapy has traditionally involved oral iron supplements. However, these are often associated with side effects, mainly gastrointestinal, that reduce patient compliance and therefore lead to inadequate improvement. The oral agents have also been found to be poorly absorbed and less effective in certain patient populations (those with celiac disease, gastritis or following bariatric surgery). Intravenous iron therapies offer a good alternative in such cases, while more recent regimens are safe, practical, and effective.
In this Special Issue, our objectives are to:
1. Delineate the frequency of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in women throughout the world and examine the different causes, which often vary by region, health factors and diet;
2. Review the clinical and lab tests that are important in the screening for and diagnosis of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia;
3. Discuss the conditions particular to women (pregnant and non-pregnant) that can predispose to and worsen iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia, if not identified and treated;
4. Review the medical treatment options for iron deficiency (both oral and intravenous supplemental iron regimens), focusing on their effectiveness, bioavailability, and safety.
Dr. Christina M. Moisidis-Tesch
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