High-dose supplementation of iron in non-anemic pregnant women can cause oxidative stress and affect birth outcomes

Researchers from India and the U.S. have found that high-dose supplementation of iron in non-anemic pregnant women can cause oxidative stress and eventually affect birth outcomes. They aimed to measure oxidative stress in pregnant women with low, normal, or high hemoglobin status in the first trimester and to relate these to birth weight.

  • The team carried out a cross-sectional study, in which they analyzed oxidative stress markers in both maternal and cord blood samples and correlated with birth weight.
  • To conduct the study, they recruited 100 pregnant women from a tertiary hospital in urban South India based on their hemoglobin status.
  • Forty women had low or normal hemoglobin status, while the remaining 60 had high hemoglobin status.
  • People with low hemoglobin levels are known to be anemic.
  • The researchers found that pregnant women who were mildly anemic benefited from iron supplementation.
  • However, those with relatively high or normal hemoglobin levels were more likely to have higher oxidative stress markers in the first trimester and were therefore at risk of harmful effects of too much iron.
  • They also tended to give birth to babies with lower gestational age and their babies had lower birth weight.
  • The findings of the study were published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

In conclusion, these findings suggest that pregnant women with high hemoglobin levels who take high doses of iron supplements tend to have increased oxidative stress, which could negatively affect birth outcomes.

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Journal Reference:

Shastri L, Pammal RS, Mani I, Thomas T, Kurpad AV. OXIDATIVE STRESS DURING EARLY PREGNANCY AND BIRTH OUTCOMES. Public Health Nutrition. December 2016; 19(17): 3210-3215. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980016001191

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