Pregnant women who take a daily iron supplement give birth to bigger and healthier babies, according to a new study.
Researchers found taking iron during pregnancy is associated with a significant increase in birth weight, and a reduction in risk of low birth weight. The effects were seen for iron doses up to 66mg per day.
The World Health Organisation currently recommends a dose of 60mg per day for pregnant women. Iron deficiency is the most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world.
It is the most common cause of anaemia during pregnancy, especially in low and middle income countries, affecting an estimated 32 million pregnant women globally. Studies suggest an association between prenatal anaemia and risk of premature birth, but evidence on other birth outcomes is inconsistent.
Researchers in Britain and the U.S. analysed the results of more than 90 studies of prenatal iron use and prenatal anaemia, involving nearly two million women. They found that iron use increased a mother's average haemoglobin levels and significantly reduced the risk of anaemia.
There was no reduction in risk of premature birth as a result of iron use. However, further analysis showed a significantly higher risk of low birth weight and premature birth with anaemia in the first or second trimester of pregnancy.
Further analysis indicated that for every 10mg increase in iron dose per day risk of maternal anaemia was 12 per cent lower, birth weight increased by 15g, and risk of low birth weight decreased by three per cent.
The researchers said: ‘Our findings suggest that use of iron in women during pregnancy may be used as a preventive strategy to improve maternal haematological status and birth weight.’
They called for ‘rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of existing antenatal care programmes in high burden countries to identify gaps in policy and programme implementation’.
And they said future studies should explore ‘feasible strategies of iron delivery’, as well as ‘evaluation of the effectiveness of other strategies, such as fortification and dietary diversification’.
Top 10 Foods which are high in Iron:
1) Mussels, Oysters, Shrimp
3) Squash and Pumpkin seeds
4) Nuts (Cashew, Hazelnut, Peanut)
5) Beef and Lamb
6) Beans and Pulses
7) Whole Grain and Bran
9) Dark Chocolate
Article: 21st June 2013 www.dailymail.co.uk
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