Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 24th 2013 Contents B28
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, June 24, 2013
Taking daily iron supplements during pregnancy
can reduced the chances of having a small baby as
well as anaemia, says research from Harvard Uni-
Studies of two million women found that taking
even a tiny amount of iron cut the risk of anaemia
by 12 per cent and low birth weight by three per
cent. Pregnant women in the UK are not given iron
supplements unless their iron levels are found to be
low. Serious iron deficiency tends to affect women
in poorer countries.
The British Medical Journal study analysed the
results of more than 90 randomised trials and studies
involving pregnant women in countries including
China and Tanzania.
For every additional 10mg of iron taken each day,
up to a maximum of 66mg per day, the risks of
anaemia and low birth weight decreased, the study
said. Birth weight was found to increase by 15g with
each 10mg of iron taken per day.
But researchers found no reduction in the risk of
premature birth as a result of iron use.
Previous studies have suggested there could be a
higher risk of low birth weight and premature birth
in pregnant women with anaemia.
The study says iron deficiency is the most common
cause of anaemia during pregnancy, especially in low
and middle income countries, affecting about 32 mil-
lion pregnant women in 2011.
The study authors are calling for improved antenatal
care in countries where iron deficiency is common
and say future research should look at "feasible strate-
gies of iron delivery".
The World Health Organisation currently recom-
mends a dose of 60mg per day for pregnant women.
Dr Batool Haider, study author from the department
of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard University s
school of public health, said even high-income coun-
tries could take something from the research.
"The recently estimated prevalence of iron defi-
ciency anaemia during pregnancy in Europe was esti-
mated to be 16.2 per cent in 2011," she said.
NICE guidelines, however, say that iron supplements
should not be offered routinely to all pregnant women
in the UK.
Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal
College of Midwives, said ensuring pregnant women
had the right level of iron was important.
"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.
"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
She added: "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."
Dr Roger Marwood, consultant obstetrician and
spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians
and Gynaecologists, said the effects of iron on preg-
nant women in low and high income countries in
the study were hard to ignore.
"This large study shows all the signs of there being
a real effect---and it shows that even low doses can
have a significant effect."
He said women who are intolerant to iron can
suffer from indigestion, bloating and other stomach
problems. But reducing the dose should also reduce
the side effects.
Dr Sue Pavord, consultant haematologist at Uni-
versity Hospitals of Leicester, said the study provided
compelling evidence for the benefits of iron supple-
mentation on foetal growth. Up until now, the evi-
dence has been inconclusive.
Daily iron in pregnancy
'reduces small baby risk'
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
She said: "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.
"But in the light of this new data we will be review-
ing this." (BBC)
Women in low-
are particularly at
risk from iron
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