Research: Iron, Pregnancy & Fetal Growth

Research Paper Title

Dietary supplements
Dietary supplements (Photo credit: Andrei Z)

Maternal Iron Intake at Mid-Pregnancy is Associateed with Reduced Fetal Growth: Results from Mothers and Children’s Environmental Health (MOCEH) Study.


Iron supplementation is a common recommendation for pregnant women to prevent iron deficiency during pregnancy. There is an increasing concern about excessive iron consumption as a general iron prophylaxis by pregnant women without any due consideration about their dietary iron intake or iron status. This study investigated the association between total iron intake from diet and supplements and fetal growth in 337 pregnant women at mid-pregnancy in South Korea.


Iron intake from diet and supplements was examined by a 24-hour recall method. Subjects were divided into three groups based on tertiles of total iron intake levels. Fetal biometry was assessed by ultrasonography at mid-pregnancy.


About 99% of the non-supplement users had iron intake below the recommended nutrient intake (RNI) for pregnant women (24 mg), whereas 64.9% of supplement users had iron intake above the upper level (UL) (45 mg). In the babies of mothers in the third tertile of iron intake (>17.04 mg), biparietal diameter, abdominal circumference, and femur length were lower by 0.41 cm (P =0.019), 0.41 cm (P = 0.027), and 0.07 cm (P = 0.051), respectively, than the babies of mothers in the second tertile of iron intake (11.49 ~ 17.04 mg).


These results suggest that excessive maternal iron intake at mid-pregnancy is associated with reduced fetal growth. Iron supplementation for pregnant women should be individualised according to their iron status. Appropriate diet education is needed for pregnant women so that they can consume adequate amounts of iron from food and supplements.

Source: Nutritional Journal 2013;12:38.


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