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Iron overdose linked to birth risks

Overdose of iron supplements to pregnant women who are not anaemic could lead to birth complications, says a new study

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 21:54 IST

Overdose of iron supplements to pregnant women who are not anaemic could lead to birth complications, says a new study.

Iron deficiency is common among women of childbearing age. Doctors recommend daily supplements of 60 to 120 mg of iron to prevent or correct anaemia and iron deficiency during pregnancy.

But, according to a study that appeared in the May issue of Archives of Medical Research, pregnant women who are not anaemic should take iron supplements weekly rather than daily, reported Newswise wire.

Fernando Viteri, a scientist at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), and other researchers found that women who are anaemic have low levels of healthy red blood cells and need higher doses of iron supplements.

However, in pregnant women who are not anaemic, the recommended daily dosage can lead to iron overload. They could also suffer birth complications.

"What happens is that excess iron in pregnancy can drive the haemoglobin above desirable levels, so that by the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, 27 percent of the non-anaemic women in our study had haemoglobin levels that were undesirably high," Viteri said.

"In these women, the risk of delivering premature babies or newborns with low birth weight quadrupled."