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Could an iron infusion improve the cardiovascular function of pregnant women? Research is set to find out!

Young researcher Min (Susie) Kim has secured an Early Career Introduction to Research Fellowship in our inaugural grant round within the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network and will be researching the health impacts iron deficiency can have on a pregnant women’s cardiovascular function at the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

Susie’s project stems from research performed by her supervisor, Northern Adelaide Local Health Network based Associate Professor Bernd Froessler. His past projects found that iron deficiency (lack of iron, which can lead to decreased red blood cells) during pregnancy leads to increased risk of pregnancy complications including bleeding and a torn placenta. These factors could be life threatening for women and their unborn babies.

Susie believes that the mechanism behind this may be due to the cardiovascular changes that happen due to iron deficiency.

“There is limited research around how low iron levels affect cardiovascular health in pregnant women so the aim of my research is to determine how iron deficiency affects the cardiovascular system. We are thinking that cardiovascular health in pregnant women will improve once iron levels are back to normal through an iron infusion,” Susie said.

Susie and colleagues
Susie is working with PhD candidate Emily Aldridge and their Supervisor Associate Professor Margaret Arstall.

“As part of the research project, we are looking to include 10 pregnant women who are already diagnosed with iron deficiency to undergo an iron infusion.

“We will then test their cardiovascular function and red blood cells after a few days to see if their function has improved from the infusion. We will also be including five healthy pregnant volunteers to see what their cardiovascular health is like and compare their outcomes against those with iron deficiency.

“This will tell us if the improvement in cardiovascular function in pregnant women matches the normal levels of cardiovascular health.”

“If I can prove iron infusion can improve the cardiovascular function and decrease adverse pregnancy outcomes that would be a great result for women,” Susie said.

“I am very grateful for the funding I’ve been awarded and to the generous donors who make it possible for young researchers like myself to have a chance to begin a hopefully long research career.”