Iron supplements and healthy pregnancy outcomes

Iron supplements and healthy pregnancy outcomes

Author -  Vicki Martin, Nutritionist and Naturopath

Naturopath Vicki Martin describes some research showing the importance of Iron as a pregnancy supplement

Can Iron help support a healthy pregnancy?

Research shows that women who start taking Iron supplements before week 20 of their pregnancy may help to increase their babies’ birth weight and long-term health. Complications of low birth weight can include:

  • lung and breathing problems
  • anaemia
  • brain abnormalities
  • behavioural problems
  • difficulty maintaining normal body temperature
  • feeding problems

Recent studies also suggest that infants with low birth weight may be more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease as adults.

Iron supplements and birth weight – what the research says

In this study, researchers monitored the pregnancies of 513 women who showed low Iron store levels before their pregnancy reached 20 weeks. Researchers measured the babies’ birth weights at delivery, and recorded how long the pregnancy had lasted. The results were fairly dramatic, showing women who had supplemented with 30mg of Iron daily from the 20 week period had significantly heavier babies. In fact, women taking Iron supplements were 76% less likely to have a baby with low birth weight than those who did not supplement. This suggests that supplementing with Iron may be an important part of supporting a healthy pregnancy for women who have low Iron stores.

Iron supplementation during pregnancy, anemia, and birth weight: a randomized controlled trial. Mary E Cogswell, Ibrahim Parvanta, Liza Ickes, Ray Yip and Gary M Brittenham. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 78, No. 4, 773-781, October 2003