Author(s): Scholl TO
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Abstract Supplementation with iron is generally recommended during pregnancy to meet the iron needs of both mother and fetus. When detected early in pregnancy, iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is associated with a > 2-fold increase in the risk of preterm delivery. Maternal anemia when diagnosed before midpregnancy is also associated with an increased risk of preterm birth. Results of recent randomized clinical trials in the United States and in Nepal that involved early supplementation with iron showed some reduction in risk of low birth weight or preterm low birth weight, but not preterm delivery. During the 3rd trimester, maternal anemia usually is not associated with increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and may be an indicator of an expanded maternal plasma volume. High levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit, and ferritin are associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, and preeclampsia. While iron supplementation increases maternal iron status and stores, factors that underlie adverse pregnancy outcome are considered to result in this association, not iron supplements. On the other hand, iron supplements and increased iron stores have recently been linked to maternal complications (eg, gestational diabetes) and increased oxidative stress during pregnancy. Consequently, while iron supplementation may improve pregnancy outcome when the mother is iron deficient it is also possible that prophylactic supplementation may increase risk when the mother does not have iron deficiency or IDA. Anemia and IDA are not synonymous, even among low-income minority women in their reproductive years.
This article was published in Am J Clin Nutr
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism