Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy: Twice Weekly As Effective As A Daily Regime
Furthermore, twice weekly supplementation is linked to improved adherence rates in pregnant women and may also be linked to improved cognitive development in infants aged six months.
These findings are important as anemia - a condition in which the blood does not supply the body with enough oxygen because of low levels of haemoglobin, the iron-containing pigment that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen - is a widespread global health problem, with over 2 billion people thought to be affected, yet the side effects and costs of daily iron supplementation are challenges to treatment.
The researchers, led by Beverley Biggs from the University of Melbourne in Australia, reached these conclusions by conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial, in which pregnant women in a semi-rural region of Viet Nam were randomized to receive daily iron-folic acid supplementation (426 women), twice weekly iron-folic acid supplementation (425 women), or twice weekly iron-folic acid supplementation plus micronutrients (407 women).
The researchers (also the authors of this paper) found that birth weight was similar in all supplement groups, and there were also no differences in rates of prematurity, stillbirth, or early neonatal death. At six months, there were also no differences in the levels of infant hemoglobin, prevalence of anemia, or growth rates.
However, the authors found that infants born to mothers in the twice weekly iron-folic acid supplement group had improved cognitive development compared to infants born to mothers in the daily supplement group. Finally, the authors found that adherence rates were significantly higher in the twice weekly iron-folic acid supplement group compared to the once daily regime.
The authors say: "We have shown that twice weekly antenatal [iron-folic acid supplementation] or [multiple micronutrient supplementation] in an area of Southeast Asia with low anemia prevalence did not produce a clinically important difference in birth weight or infant growth outcomes, compared to daily antenatal [iron-folic acid supplementation]."
They continue: "Our finding of a significant improvement in infant cognitive outcome at 6 months of age following twice weekly antenatal [iron-folic acid supplementation] requires further exploration, and provides additional support for the use of intermittent over daily antenatal [iron-folic acid supplementation] regimes in populations with low rates of iron deficiency."
Funding: This study was funded through a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Coucil of Australia (Grant number 628751). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Citation: Hanieh S, Ha TT, Simpson JA, Casey GJ, Khuong NC, et al. (2013) The Effect of Intermittent Antenatal Iron Supplementation on Maternal and Infant Outcomes in Rural Viet Nam: A Cluster Randomised Trial. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001470. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001470
ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001470
Public Library of Science
Source: EurekAlert!, the online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
Public Library of Science. "Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy: Twice Weekly As Effective As A Daily Regime." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 20 Jun. 2013. Web.
9 Dec. 2016. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/262155.php>
Public Library of Science. (2013, June 20). "Iron Supplementation During Pregnancy: Twice Weekly As Effective As A Daily Regime." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
Contact our news editors
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please see our contact page.
Copyright Medical News Today: Excluding email/sharing services explicitly offered on this website, material published on Medical News Today may not be reproduced, or distributed without the prior written permission of Medilexicon International Ltd. Please contact us for further details.