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Toowoomba mums-to-be become 'iron women'

8 January 2019

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Pregnant mums Lauren and Crystal had low iron levels identified through blood tests. They are pictured with their caseload midwives Haidee and Julie, Dr Divya and transfusion nurse Susan.

A Queensland-first study into checking the iron levels of pregnant women at Toowoomba Hospital’s antenatal clinic is paying dividends for up to four out of five mums-to-be.

Darling Downs Health transfusion nurse Susan Kay said the study project, started in conjunction with the Red Cross Blood Service, involved measuring iron levels in pregnant mums and offering those who were iron deficient a simple intervention, in the form of supplementary iron medication.

“Iron deficiency in pregnant women was identified as a significant issue in our area, with up to 80 per cent of pregnant women affected.

“When it occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy the expectant mum is likely to be suffering from anaemia by the time her baby is born.

“Anaemia causes a feeling of weakness and makes you less able to cope with the physical stresses of childbirth, so what we have seen since the project started is a great uptake by expectant mums, who are then feeling much better at the time their babies are born.

“The project was the first in Queensland, and mirrored similar studies done in conjunction with the Blood Service at Canberra Hospital and Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“The three projects, as a collective, received a merit award in the International Hospital Federation/Austco Awards for Quality, Safety and Patient-Centred Care at the recent 42nd World Hospital Congress held in Brisbane, which was a great honour.”

Toowoomba Hospital’s Nursing Director for Women’s and Children’s Services Wendy Fry said the efforts of all involved in the project were contributing to optimising outcomes for expectant mothers.

“It’s fantastic to see that this project has contributed to standardising care for a very common problem,” Ms Fry said.

“It’s been a collaborative effort with our maternity department’s medical and midwifery staff doing a great job of collecting and interpreting data about iron deficiency.

“We are hopeful that the iron medication intervention that has worked so successfully for mums here will be taken up as standard practice over the Darling Downs and further around the state.”

Last updated: 25 January 2019