Should I Take Iron Tablets During Pregnancy?

Taking daily iron supplements during pregnancy can reduce the chances of anaemia and of you having a low birth weight baby.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anaemia in pregnant women and previous studies have suggested that there could be a link between anaemia and low birth weight. A recent study by Harvard university found that taking iron supplements – even small amounts, reduced the risk of low birth weight by 3% and anaemia by 12%. There was no link identified between taking iron supplements and a reduction in premature births.
The British medical journal recently analysed over 90 trials involving pregnant women from all over the world and concluded the following:

  • For every additional 10mg of iron taken each day (up to a maximum of 66mg per day), the risks of anaemia and low birth weight decreased
  • Birth weight was found to increase by 15g with each 10mg of iron taken per day
  • Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia during pregnancy, particularly in low and middle income countries

The world health organisation currently recommends 60mg of iron a day for pregnant women

In the UK, women’s iron levels are measured at key points during pregnancy, usually at booking and again at 28 weeks. If iron levels are found to be normal, there is currently no requirement to recommend iron supplements. If iron levels are found to be low, you may then be given dietary advice or advised to take iron supplements.

Anaemia affects 1.62 billion people globally, corresponding to 24.8% of the world population. Iron deficiency is the most common cause and even in the developed world an estimated 30- 40% of preschool children and pregnant women have iron depletion.

Dietary changes alone are insufficient to correct iron deficiency anaemia, if you are thinking of trying for a baby, you should look closely at your diet and ensure you are eating enough iron rich foods.

The Royal College of Midwives state that there is perhaps a need here in the UK for us to focus on ensuring better pre-conception health, so that women contemplating pregnancy can adjust their diet to include appropriate nutrients before becoming pregnant.”

Did you take iron supplements during your pregnancy? Did you have low iron levels? Do you think all pregnant women should be advised to take iron supplements or is the current advice in the UK sufficient?

I leave you with one last quote from BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology before you decide whether or not to take iron tablets/supplements.

Anaemia in women is often associated with low birth-weight and pre-term births but that does not mean that women should be popping iron pills, or any vitamin pills, indiscriminately. Women who are not suffering from anaemia should ensure that they receive proper advice on diet and nutrition.

My aim was to provide you with enough information for you to make an informed decision, I hope I have been able to help.