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Maternal and infant iron supplementation reduces risk of iron deficiency

Posted:  Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Iron supplementation to mothers and infants reduces iron deficiency in infants

Iron deficiency during pregnancy and infancy still remains a challenge, especially in developing countries. Various iron supplementation programmes have been initiated for mothers and infants for overcoming this public health problem. In a randomised placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Nutrition, the impact of iron supplementation on mothers and infants was evaluated.

Jiang et al. recruited 1482 infants born to women in a pregnancy iron supplementation trial to assess the outcome of iron supplementation during pregnancy and/or infancy. The subjects were randomised to four treatment groups: pregnancy placebo/infancy placebo (placebo/placebo), pregnancy placebo/infancy iron (placebo/iron), pregnancy iron/infancy placebo (iron/placebo), and pregnancy iron/infancy iron (iron/iron).

The outcomes evaluated included the infant iron status, illnesses, and growth. The primary outcome was the iron status in infants at 9 months. Secondary outcomes included weight or length gain, and hospitalisations or doctor visits from birth till 9 months of age. The outcome of dose-dependent iron supplementation was analysed using logistic regression with concomitant relative risks and general linear models.

Iron supplementation during infancy reduced the risk of iron deficiency when compared to iron supplementation during pregnancy. However, >60% of infants had iron deficiency at 9 months. Receiving more doses of iron improved the iron status at 9 months of age, but this was only observed in the iron/iron group. No significant differences in hospitalisation or illness were observed among the groups.

In conclusion, the supplementation of iron to pregnant women and infants up to 9 months of age, reduced the risk of iron deficiency in infants. High-dose supplementation did not exert any adverse effects on health outcomes in infants.

News Source: Lozoff B, Jiang Y, Li X, et al. Low-dose iron supplementation in infancy modestly increases infant iron status at 9 mo without decreasing growth or increasing illness in a randomized clinical trial in rural China. The Journal of nutrition. 2016 Mar 1;146(3):612-21.