Pregnant women taking iron supplements-less prone to the risk of anaemia & low baby weight

Pregnant women who take daily iron supplements during their pregnancy are less prone to have a small baby and the risk of developing anaemia, found the researchers from the Harvard university.

The researchers of the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Imperial College, London found in their studies considering 2million women that even a tiny amount of iron intake during pregnancy can reduce the risk of anaemia by 12% and cut the low birth weight of the baby by 3%.

The studies have found a definite link between the intake of iron supplements during pregnancy with anaemia and birth outcomes.

The collaborative results suggest that no other supplements affect the mother during pregnancy than iron. The intake of iron not only increases the haemoglobin levels of the mother by an exceptional amount but also reduces the risk of developing anaemia by half.

The amount of iron supplements taken during pregnancy was directly linked with the lower risk of developing anaemia and also the risk of low birth weight of the baby. Iron supplements showed an immense result with 19% decrease in the risk of low birth weight and 41.2 gms increase in the baby weight on an average.

The risk of iron deficiency is more prominent among pregnant women in poorer countries leading to many women being anaemic.

Study details:
Random trials and studies were conducted and results of 90 such trials which involved pregnant women from various countries including China and Tanzania was analysed by the British Medical Journal.

Women were provided with various doses of iron and it was observed that for every 10 mg of iron intake with a maximum of 66 mg per day, the women developing the risk of anaemia and the low birth weight decreased.

With every 10 mg iron intake per day, the risk of birth weight increased by 15 gms, confirmed the studies. However the iron intake had no affect of the risk of premature births, found the researchers.

Previously there have been studies confirming the correlation between anaemic pregnant women giving premature births and births with low birth weight.

In the year 2011, 32 million pregnant women were affected with anaemia caused by lack of iron intake in the low and middle income countries.

Researchers are focussing on better and improved antenatal care to take care of this rising cause of low birth weight caused due to iron deficiency and also suggest that the future research should come up with feasible and more effective strategies of iron delivery.

Not only the low and middle income countries but also the high income countries should concentrate on the desired amount of iron intake for overcoming the risk of anaemia among pregnant women suggests the study author from the department of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University’s school of public health, Dr Batool Haider.

Iron during pregnancy:
The recommended dose for pregnant women according to the WHO(World Health Organisation) standards is 60 mg per day.

In countries like U.K, the iron supplements are not offered on a routine basis to all the pregnant women as it may have some unpleasant maternal side effects, confirms NICE, a guidance body which helps on health matters.

“There is perhaps a need here in the UK for us to focus on ensuring better pre-conception health, so that women contemplating pregnancy can adjust their diet to include appropriate nutrients before becoming pregnant.”

In Europe, the estimated prevalence of iron deficiency anaemia during pregnancy was 16.2% in 2011.

According to the professional policy adviser, Janet Fyle from the Royal Collect of Midwives, the right level of iron among pregnant women was an important consideration to ensure.

“Women’s iron levels are checked at specific times during pregnancy. Appropriate action is taken if required, such as dietary advice or an iron supplement may be recommended. The problem of serious iron deficiency tends to affect low income countries, where some women may already have poor health status before pregnancy and have the added burden of not being able to afford iron supplements.”, she added.

The study provided substantial evidence of proper iron intake by pregnant women related to the reduction in low birth weight, said Dr Sue Pavord, consultant haematologist at University Hospitals of Leicester.

She said that as per the study, even low iron supplements dosage can lead to a significant effect in the reduction of low birth weight.

Women intolerant of iron can experience stomach bloating, indigestion and other problems, however reducing the dose can also reduce the side effects.

“It’s not clear whether such big effects will be seen in the UK population and whether routine supplementation for all women will be better than our current approach, which is prompt identification and management of at risk groups.”, she said.

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