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Pregnant Women and Wannabe Moms Need Iron, 5 Reasons Why

Iron deficiency and pregnant women

Pregnant women and wannabe moms are often warned to take folic acid during pregnancy. But what about iron? A new meta-analysis shows that women who take iron during pregnancy have a lower risk of giving birth to a low-weight infant, and previous studies show more benefits as well.

Here’s one reason to take iron during pregnancy

Iron deficiency is a global nutritional problem, and according to the authors of a new study, approximately 32 million pregnant women around the world are affected. One reason iron deficiency is critical for this population is that low levels of this mineral are associated with anemia, a condition that places both women and their infants at risk for health problems.

Specifically, anemia during pregnancy has been associated with a greater risk of premature birth, but the link between iron levels during pregnancy and this risk has not been well studied until now. That’s why a team reviewed more than 90 studies involving more than 2 million women to explore the relationship between iron intake during pregnancy and premature birth.

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The international team found that for every 10 mg increase in iron pregnant women took daily, their risk of developing anemia declined by 12 percent, and their risk of giving birth to a low-weight infant declined by 3 percent. In the meta-analysis, the amount of daily iron intake was up to 66 mg, while the World Health Organization recommends 60 mg daily for pregnant women.

4 more reasons women should take iron
Here are 4 other reasons why you should pay close attention to your iron intake if you are pregnant or are a wannabe mom.

  • The offspring of women who take iron, folic acid, and vitamin A during pregnancy are more likely to have better fine motor skills, working memory, and inhibitory control than children whose mothers took only vitamin A. That study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, followed 676 children aged 7 to 9 years who had been born to women who participated in a study of prenatal nutrient supplementation.
  • Overweight and obesity are serious problems among young people, and iron may have a role. Research indicates that pregnant women who do not maintain a healthful diet during pregnancy, including insufficient iron, increase the risk of having children who will experience obesity and diabetes later in life.
  • Even if pregnant women do not have iron-deficient anemia, getting too little iron can have a long-lasting impact on their child’s brain development, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study. In animal studies, researchers determined that iron deficiency in women even before conception and extending through the first trimester can have a negative impact on the developing brain.
  • Another study from the University of Rochester Medical Center reported on an apparent link between iron deficiency and delayed development in hearing in preemies. Results of the animal study suggested that infants born prematurely to iron-deficient mothers are at increased risk of auditory nervous system delays, which can have a negative impact on language development in early childhood.

If you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant, be sure to have your iron levels checked. Both pregnant women and wannabe moms need a sufficient amount of iron to help prevent health risks that can affect their children’s lives forever.

Haider BA et al. Anaemia, prenatal iron use, and risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2013; 346:f3443
Mihaila C et al. Identifying a window of vulnerability during fetal development in a maternal iron restriction model. PLoS One 2011 Mar 15; 6(3): e17483

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