Medicine is not exact science: an example about iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy

Many pregnant women develop iron deficiency and need oral iron supplements.

The question is which supplements to buy and when to take them.

Below are the recommendations from two sources: Myles Textbook for Midwives (UK, 2003) and UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy.

Both sources are from the UK. I emphasize UK because Sri Lankans believe in the infallibility of the UK almost religiously.

Myles Textbook for Midwives (UK, 2003) UK guidelines on the management of iron deficiency in pregnancy – British Committee for Standards in Haematology, 2011
The side effects can be reduced by taking iron supplements after meals. Oral iron supplementation should be taken on an empty stomach, as absorption is reduced or promoted by the same factors that affect absorption of dietary non-haem iron.
Slow release preparations, although more expensive, are relatively free from side effects. For nausea and epigastric discomfort, preparations with lower iron content should be tried. Slow release and enteric coated forms should be avoided.

One source recommends to take the pills on an empty stomach. The other — after meals.

One source says, get slow release preparations. The other source recommends to avoid them.

Whom to believe?

I think this example shows the current state of medical science.

Doctors usually try hard to appear knowledgeable, and even get offended when you argue with them or don’t follow their advice.

But medicine is not maths of physics. It is still not developed well.

The most honest words about medicine that I heard was in the paper that I was given to sign in the hospital in Afghanistan when my wife was giving birth to my second daughter.

It said: Medicine is not exact science. And then it continued some disclaimer that things can go wrong even if the medical staff is doing everything right.

Remember: Medicine is not exact science. No matter how assertive (or arrogant) your doctor is, he may be wrong. Check multiple sources.

Published in: on 08/12/2012 at 21:31  Leave a Comment  

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