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Iron harmful in pregnancy?

31st May 2007
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Researchers have warned that healthy pregnant women should think twice before taking iron supplements.

A study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG) has shown a link between high doses of iron supplements and blood pressure problems.

In the research, conducted by an Iranian university, some women were given a 30mg daily dose of an iron supplement, a level some experts in the UK say should only be taken on the advice of a GP.

Iron is often given to combat anaemia in pregnancy, but some expectant mothers take extra iron on its own or in a multivitamin form.

The researchers from Tarbiat Modarres University wanted to check the effect of iron supplements on women whose red blood cell level was normal. They gave 370 women a dose of ferrous sulphate equating to approximately 30mg of actual iron every day throughout their pregnancy.

Findings showed that the number of women diagnosed with high blood pressure was higher in the women given the iron pills than in a group given a placebo.

BJOG editor Professor Philip Steer said: “Anaemia is often associated with low birth weight and preterm births, but this does not mean that women should be popping iron pills, or any vitamin pills indiscriminately, to prevent poor pregnancy outcomes.�

A spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that women should avoid taking extra iron unless recommended by their GP or midwife.

The UK Food Standards Agency said lower doses of iron in UK multivitamins were unlikely to harm women.


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