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Iron supplementation during pregnancy may improve baby birth weight

Published on

16 July 2013

According to a new review daily supplementation with iron during pregnancy reduces the risk of maternal anemia and low birth weight babies.

The meta-analysis included 92 randomized controlled trials and cohort studies, which investigated a potential dose-response relationship between iron intake, maternal anemia and low birth weight babies in almost two million people (1). The analysis showed that prenatal iron use was significantly associated with an increase in birth weight and reduction in risk of low birth weight. A dose-response relation was shown for higher iron dose as well as increasing mean hemoglobin concentration in the prenatal period and increasing birth weight. In addition, significant reductions in maternal anemia, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia with increa-sing iron intakes were observed: for every 10 mg increase in the daily iron dosage – up to 66 mg – the risk of maternal anemia was 12% lower, birth weight increased by 15 grams and risk of low birth weight de-creased by 3%. No reduction in risk of preterm birth as a result of iron use was shown.

The researchers concluded that use of iron by women during pregnancy may be applied as a preventive strategy to improve maternal hematological status and birth weight. Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world, and is the most common cause of anemia during pregnancy. Future re-search should explore feasible strategies of iron delivery as well as evaluation of the effectiveness of other strategies, such as fortification and dietary diversification, the scientists suggested.


  1. Batool A. et al. Anaemia, prenatal iron use, and risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. Published online June 2013.

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