Iron overdose during pregnancy could be harmful, according to an Iranian university study.
Iron is often given to combat anaemia in pregnancy but many women take extra iron. Anaemia is a condition where the blood is unable to carry enough oxygen due to low number of red blood cells or because each red blood cell is unable to carry normal amounts of oxygen.
Common symptoms of anaemia include tiredness, breathlessness or fainting.
Anaemic mothers have the risk of delivering babies prematurely or with low birth weight of the baby. But this does not mean that women should be popping iron pills or any vitamin pills indiscriminately, the study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said.
The researchers at Tarbiat Modarres University checked the effect of iron supplements on women whose red blood cell level was normal. They gave 370 women a 150mg dose of ferrous sulphate, which is equal to approximately 30mg of iron, every day throughout their pregnancy. A similar number of women were given a placebo or dummy pill containing no iron.
The number of women with high blood pressure, a disorder that can also cause problems for the child, was higher among women who were given the iron pills , according to online edition of BBC News.
Lead researcher Saedeh Ziaei said, "Our trial suggests that administering iron may have some disadvantages in non-anaemic women."
In western countries, unless a pregnant woman is suffering from anaemia, iron supplementation is not routinely given during pregnancy.
In India, however, due to a variety of reasons like malnutrition, vegetarian diet and deep-frying of vegetables, it is assumed that most women are iron-deficient. Hence, doctors recommend pregnant women to take iron supplements routinely.