According to a new study, daily dose of iron during pregnancy can reduce the risk of having an underweight baby.
About 32 million pregnant women in the world suffer from anemia because of low iron levels and this deficiency is mostly seen in women of low or middle income countries.
Experts from the U.S. and the U.K. analyzed data of nearly 2 million pregnant women for the study. These women were part of some 90 studies that looked into the intake of iron during pregnancy and the baby’s health. Studies were of both randomized trial and cohort types. The study found that taking iron supplements (up to 66 mg per day) decreased the risk of anemia by 12 percent and that of having an underweight baby by 3 percent. The World Health Organization recommends that anemic women take 60 mg of iron supplements per day.
Results of the study revealed that iron supplements increased the average hemoglobin levels and significantly reduced risk of anemia in children.
“Our findings suggest that use of iron in women during pregnancy may be used as a preventive strategy to improve maternal hematological status and birth weight,” the authors said. They have now called for a “rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of existing antenatal care programs in high burden countries to identify gaps in policy and program implementation.”
Women in the United States or the United Kingdom presently aren’t given any iron supplements unless they are diagnosed with anemia. Pregnant women must consult their gynecologist before using any dietary supplements.
The study is published in the journal BMJ.