Universal prenatal daily iron-folic acid (IFA) and multiple micronutrient (MM) supplements are recommended to reduce the risk of low birth weight, maternal anemia, and iron deficiency (ID) during pregnancy, but the evidence of their effect on iron status among women with mild or no anemia is limited. The aim of this study was to describe the iron status [serum ferritin (SF), serum soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and body iron (BI)] before and after micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy. We examined 834 pregnant women with hemoglobin > 100 g/L at enrollment before 20 wk of gestation and with iron measurement data from a subset of a randomized, double-blind trial in China. Women were randomly assigned to take daily 400 μg of folic acid (FA) (control), FA plus 30 mg of iron, or FA, iron, plus 13 additional MMs provided before 20 wk of gestation to delivery. Venous blood was collected in this subset during study enrollment (before 20 wk of gestation) and 28-32 wk of gestation. We found that, at 28-32 wk of gestation, compared with the FA group, both the IFA and MM groups had significantly lower prevalence of ID regardless of which indicator (SF, sTfR, or BI) was used for defining ID. The prevalence of ID at 28-32 wk of gestation for IFA, MM, and FA were 35.3%, 42.7%, and 59.6% by using low SF, 53.6%, 59.9%, and 69.9% by using high sTfR, and 34.5%, 41.2%, and 59.6% by using low BI, respectively. However, there was no difference in anemia prevalence (hemoglobin < 110 g/L) between FA and IFA or MM groups. We concluded that, compared with FA alone, prenatal IFA and MM supplements provided to women with no or mild anemia improved iron status later during pregnancy but did not affect perinatal anemia. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00137744.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pregnancy is one of the more important periods in life when increased micronutrients, and macronutrients are most needed by the body; both for the health and well-being of the mother and for the growing foetus and newborn child. This brief review aims to identify the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) likely to be deficient in women of reproductive age in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC), especially during pregnancy, and the impact of such deficiencies. A global prevalence of some two billion people at risk of micronutrient deficiencies, and multiple micronutrient deficiencies of many pregnant women in LMIC underline the urgency to establishing the optimal recommendations, including for delivery. It has long been recognized that adequate iron is important for best reproductive outcomes, including gestational cognitive development. Similarly, iodine and calcium have been recognized for their roles in development of the foetus/neonate. Less clear effects of deficiencies of zinc, copper, magnesium and selenium have been reported. Folate sufficiency periconceptionally is recognized both by the practice of providing folic acid in antenatal iron/folic acid supplementation and by increasing numbers of countries fortifying flours with folic acid. Other vitamins likely to be important include vitamins B12, D and A with the water-soluble vitamins generally less likely to be a problem. Epigenetic influences and the likely influence of micronutrient deficiencies on foetal origins of adult chronic diseases are currently being clarified. Micronutrients may have other more subtle, unrecognized effects. The necessity for improved diets and health and sanitation are consistently recommended, although these are not always available to many of the world's pregnant women. Consequently, supplementation programmes, fortification of staples and condiments, and nutrition and health support need to be scaled-up, supported by social and cultural measures. Because of the life-long influences on reproductive outcomes, including inter-generational ones, both clinical and public health measures need to ensure adequate micronutrient intakes during pregnancy, but also during adolescence, the first few years of life, and during lactation. Many antenatal programmes are not currently achieving this. We aim to address the need for micronutrients during pregnancy, the importance of micronutrient deficiencies during gestation and before, and propose the scaling-up of clinical and public health approaches that achieve healthier pregnancies and improved pregnancy outcomes.
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