I don’t think I’d have even known where the blood form was to test for vitamin B12.
It’s definitely something I hadn’t come across as a midwife.
Even more interesting - before dual qualified midwife and nurse Samantha Nash was diagnosed, she’d never heard of it either, despite working with vitamin deficiencies in her infant feeding co-ordinator role.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is a disease of the nerves – the myelin sheath, which is the fatty covering of the nerve, becomes frayed so messages don’t pass easily.
In pregnancy, it can cause problems with a baby’s neural tube forming, meaning the spinal cord or brain can be exposed or damaged.
In adults, it can present just as severely as Multiple Sclerosis and can kill you.
The thing is, if it’s diagnosed early and treated properly it’s completely reversible.
In this conversation, we talk about:
- What vitamin B12 is exactly
- Why it's essential for the nervous system, and who's at risk
- Why it can be dangerous to take it orally
- Some of the reasons it's not being diagnosed, or is being under-treated
- Something very surprising about Entonox that we get to at the end too, which I know you’ll find fascinating and, to be honest, slightly worrying
- And plus, Samantha shares her overall bit of wisdom for aspiring, student and qualified midwives (love this bit).
We go into some experimental territory here in some instances, so I strongly advise if you come across a client or anyone else who you suspect has B12 deficiency, do lots of reading and speak to a haematologist (blood specialist) – and get the client or family to speak to their GP, research, and push to find expert advice.
Midwives can make a massive difference for this group of underdiagnosed women in their position as ‘determined advocates’.
For more info:
- NICE guidelines on B12 deficiency
- Could it be B12? - Sally M. Pacholok, nurse
- Diagnosing and Treating Vitamin B12 Deficiency Documentary
- US Film 'Sally Pacholok'
- Really excellent website for patients with B12 deficiency
- Conference (June)
When you've had a chance to watch the video, leave me a comment below to make the learning stick. What's ONE thing you didn't know about vitamin B12 deficiency that you'll take with you?
Massive thanks to Samantha Nash! We wish you all the best with you conference, and with getting better.
Much Love, Ellie x