Generally, women face the greatest risk of developing low iron anemia during their childbearing years — from first menstruation until menopause occurs and menstruation ends. About 20 percent of women of childbearing age have low iron anemia at any given time.
During pregnancy, women also have a greater need for iron since they are supplying the iron for both themselves and for their fetus. Blood flow increases and extra iron must be provided to help the fetus develop and grow. Severe anemia during pregnancy increases the risks for both premature labor and/or low-birth-weight infant.
Infants and young children face a significant risk of developing iron deficiency anemia, unless they are breastfed by a mother whose iron levels are high enough to share with her newborn, or an iron-fortified formula is used for feedings.
Your doctor may prescribe a prenatal vitamin with iron to decrease your risk of developing low iron anemia during pregnancy, and breastfeeding. If low iron anemia occurs, your doctor will prescribe an iron pill, as well as suggesting you include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet.
Other people who have an increased risk of developing iron deficiency include:
Adults experiencing internal bleeding – This can be caused by a number of diseases, conditions, and other factors including intestinal bleeding, bleeding ulcers, colon cancer, or taking medications such as aspirin or other anticoagulants.
Kidney dialysis may also lead to low iron anemia. This is due to the amount of blood lost during dialysis.