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A prophylactic supplementation of iron and folate in pregnancy.


The supplementation of iron and folic acid were studied in 567 pregnant women with 18 and 26 weeks of gestation. Sixty mg and 180 mg of iron were given daily to pregnant women of group I and group II respectively while 180 mg of iron and 5 mg folic acid were given to group III. The Hb values increased significantly in group II and III after supplementation for 1 1/2 months, however if supplementation was extended for 3 months, highly significant increase in Hb levels were observed in all these groups. These findings indicated that in supplementation for a shorter period, i.e. 1 1/2 months at least 180 mg of iron was needed, and only 60 mg of iron was sufficient to increase Hb levels for a supplementation of 3 months. Vitamin B12 deficiency was not detected in pregnant women both before and after supplementation with iron and iron plus folate for 3 months. It was suggested therefore that perhaps it was not necessary to supplement vitamin B12 to Thai pregnant women. In this study 15% of pregnant women had low serum folate with normal red cell folate level, and a greater number of women with low serum folate concentrations were observed after supplementation with iron alone for 3 months. However, increased serum folate and red cell folate levels after supplementation with 5 mg folic acid indicated that some pregnant women needed folate supplementation in preventing folic acid deficiency during pregnancy.

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