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Taking iron in pills for pregnancy make babies healthier

2017-04-21T11:13:32+00:00 June 24th, 2013|Pregnancy|

"Daily iron in pregnancy reduces small baby risk," BBC News reports, with a similar story in the Daily Express. The news stories follow a major review of the best available evidence on the link between use of iron supplements during pregnancy, and pregnancy and birth outcomes. The pooled results suggest that, compared with no supplements, taking iron supplements increases the mother’s haemoglobin levels, and halves the risk of the mother becoming anaemic during pregnancy. Supplements also resulted in the baby being on average 41.2g heavier at birth and reduced the risk of low birthweight by 19%. The findings showed a dose-response relationship, with higher doses being associated with lower risk of maternal anaemia and lower risk of low birthweight. Overall, this offers evidence to back iron supplementation during pregnancy. However, this review focussed on low, middle and high income countries. Women do need increased iron during pregnancy, but in the UK, should be able to get all the iron they need in their diet (such as from leafy vegetables). Currently, iron supplements are recommended if pregnancy blood tests show that the mother is anaemic. They are not routinely offered to all pregnant women due to the potential for side effects. Folic acid supplements are, however, recommended while trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School and Imperial College, London. Funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support came from the Saving Brains Program, Grand Challenges Canada Grant. The study was published in the peer-reviewed, British Medical Journal. The news stories provide a representative view of the findings. What kind of research was this? This was a systematic review and meta-analysis. It [...]