There are over 400 different types of anemia, and symptoms may include fatigue, pain, headaches, dizziness, pale or yellow skin, shortness of breath, fast or unusual heartbeat, vision issues, and more. Left untreated, it can be fatal.
Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common type, and as 20% of women, 50% or more of pregnant women, and 3% of men don’t have enough iron in their bodies, it’s easy to see why.
Pregnant women are at an increased risk of iron-deficiency anemia simply because pregnancy puts a higher blood supply demand on the body than under normal circumstances.
Drs. Michelle Sholzberg, Lisa Hicks, and Andrea Lausman noticed an alarming trend of women with severe anemia well into their pregnancies. The condition can cause premature delivery, low birthweight, childhood anemia, postpartum depression, and even death.
As low iron is easy to detect and relatively easy to treat, the trio realized it was clearly falling through the cracks for one reason or another. It just wasn’t being properly monitored or prioritized.
And the seed for Iron Mom had been planted.
Iron Mom spent its early life as a paper-based toolkit created by hematologists Sholzberg and Hicks, and maternal fetal medicine specialist Lausman. It originally took the form of posters in ob/gyn clinics and step-by-step guides on diagnosing and treating the condition.
But the doctors knew a digital solution would work better to get crucial information into the hands of clinicians and patients faster and regardless of location. They needed an app.
In 2017, Drs. Sholzberg and Hicks presented Iron Mom at St. Michael’s annual Angels’ Den event. They won the $50,000 grand prize in the social innovation category, and set their sights on transitioning their product to the digital world.
They needed a development partner. And they turned to Troon.
“Our vision and mission for IRON MOM is to emancipate and empower women, and part of that vision is not just reaching women at St. Michael’s, or in Toronto, or in Canada, but women everywhere.” ~Dr. Sholzberg
This conversion allowed them to hit stretch goals that included expanding and updating the database, introducing it to nurses and midwives in addition to clinicians and patients, and making the resources available to hospitals and clinics across Canada and the world.
Within a year of its release, the doctors witnessed a tenfold increase in the average number of monthly iron-level tests done in obstetric clinics at St. Michael’s, and a sizeable decrease in the risk of anemia.
When their own research discovered up to 90% of pregnant women were iron deficient, they knew it was time to reconsider the traditional approach. With their original paper toolkit, they recognized the potential for a digital solution to not only educate clinicians and expectant mothers on the importance of iron, but also how to manage side effects and speak about any concerns or issues.
We’ve heard overwhelmingly positive reactions from everyone we’ve shown this to. It’s kind of a no brainer – everybody gets it. We’re not talking about a complicated brain surgery – it’s a very simple solution which is why we’re confident this will start to positively impact women and change the way we look at anemia in pregnancy and beyond.