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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1295-302. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28350. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

Periconceptional iron supplementation does not reduce anemia or improve iron status among pregnant women in rural Bangladesh.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a growing interest in periconceptional iron supplementation in developing countries by researchers and policy makers; however, there are no randomized controlled trials that examine the effectiveness of this strategy in decreasing anemia during pregnancy.

OBJECTIVE:

The aim was to determine whether periconceptional iron supplementation reduces anemia during pregnancy.

DESIGN:

A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial was conducted in rural Bangladesh. Married, nulliparous women were randomly assigned to receive daily iron and folic acid (IFA; 60 mg ferrous fumarate and 400 microg folic acid) (n = 134) or folic acid (FA; 400 microg) (n = 138) in the form of a powdered supplement added to food. Women were followed until pregnancy or the end of 9 mo. Primary outcomes included hemoglobin, plasma ferritin, and plasma transferrin receptor concentrations.

RESULTS:

Among 88 pregnant women, periconceptional IFA in comparison with FA did not affect anemia or iron status at 15 wk gestation. However, each 1% increase in adherence was associated with a 10-g/L increase in change in hemoglobin from baseline (P = 0.03), and those who initiated supplementation at a mean (+/-SD) time of 72.9 +/- 57.8 d before conception showed a 7.3-g/L increase in change in hemoglobin from baseline compared with those who initiated supplementation at 26.3 +/- 12.3 d after conception (P = 0.01). Among 146 nonpregnant women, IFA decreased anemia (odds ratio: 0.19; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.95) and improved iron stores (P = 0.001) more than did FA.

CONCLUSION:

Good adherence and initiation of supplementation before conception are needed to reduce anemia during early pregnancy. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00953134.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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