PRESS RELEASE: Iron Deficiency Day,26th Nov. 2019

The European Institute of Women’s Health announces the initiation of research into issues around access to good quality maternal healthcare in EU a Maternal Health Report contributing to the evidence base will be completed on the basis of the research and provide recommendations for clinicians, healthcare workers, women themselves and policymakers to act to improve maternal health services in the EU.

Maternal mortality and maternal health are intrinsically connected to health inequalities of both mother and child. Every woman has a fundamental right to high quality maternity care within Europe; however, this is not always the case as the incidence of maternal mortality varies across the EU. Factors that prevent women from receiving or accessing care during pregnancy include poverty, distance from appropriate healthcare, lack of information including low health literacy and inadequate services.

Maternal health is a vital point for public health intervention to reduce the burden of disease and promote well-being through encouragement of healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition, cessation of smoking and alcohol consumption as well as taking appropriate exercise. Today, 26 November, is Iron Deficiency Day highlighting the impact that Iron Deficiency can have on maternal health 40% of pregnant women and 25% of women a week after birth suffer from iron deficiency.i In pregnant women, iron deficiency is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight, prematurity and perinatal mortality.iiiii

There is a lack of information and data about the safe use of medication during pregnancy and lactation for both women and their healthcare professionals, which must be urgently tackled.

Research and pharmacovigilance must be improved to ensure safe and effective use of medicines during pregnancy and lactation in order to provide robust information and advice for health professionals, mothers and pregnant women.  Most of the 5 million babies born in Europe every year have been exposed to medications taken by their mothers during the pregnancy.  iv

The European Institute of Women’s Health Manifesto highlights that 1/10 women in Europe do not have access to care during the first months of pregnancy, 2/3 of new born deaths could be prevented with appropriate care. (EIWH Manifesto 2018)v

Large variations exist regarding maternal mortality, prevention strategies, issues and outcomes. This report will seek to better understand these disparities with the aim of assessing the central issues in maternal health and the state of play in Europe to order to improve maternal health for all women. Improving maternal healthcare and eliminating preventable death of a woman from complications of pregnancy and childbirth requires identifying barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services and addressing them at all levels of the healthcare system.

The report will explore the central issues surrounding maternal health utilising the most recent evidence and literature, including such issues as, obesity, diabetes, depression, nutrition, iron deficiency. In pregnant women, iron deficiency is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight, prematurity and perinatal mortality.

The current state of policy, research and data in Europe will also be explored and concrete steps for action will be included in order to inform policymakers and key stakeholders.


For more information, please visit:

About the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH)

Founded in 1996, the European Institute of Women’s Health (EIWH) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses an evidence-based approach to advocate for an equitable, sex- and gender-sensitive approach in health policy, research, promotion, treatment and care. The Institute promotes biomedical and socio-economic research that addresses sex and gender-based differences to ensure access to quality treatment and care for women across their lifespan. The EIWH strives to reduce inequities by drawing policymaker’s attention to the obstacles that women in minority, migrant, refugee and socio-economic disadvantaged groups face. The Institute’s activities work to empower individuals to play an active part in their own health management.

About Iron Deficiency Day

Iron Deficiency Day is a campaign aimed at helping people understand why iron is so important to our bodies and what can happen if we’re not getting enough, by recognising the symptoms and taking action.


i Bothwell TH. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72(Suppl 1):257S−264S.

ii Haider BA et al. BMJ 2013:346:f3443,  Russell et al. Pediatrics 2007 Volume 120, Number 1, July 2007

iii Milman N. Ann Hematol. 2011 Nov;90(11):1247-53; Munoz et al. Transfus Med. 2018 Feb;28(1):22-39; Murray-Kolb et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar;89(3):946S-950S

v EU Manifesto for Women’s Health:

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