Iron deficiency in pregnancy and the rationality of iron supplements prescribed during pregnancy

Medscape J Med. 2008;10(12):283. Epub 2008 Dec 16.


Iron deficiency with its resultant anemia is probably the most widespread micronutrient deficiency in the world. Women who are pregnant or lactating and young children are the most affected, especially in the developing world. Despite that only 1 to 3 mg of absorbed iron is required daily at different stages of life, most diets remain deficient. Failure to include iron-rich foods in the diet and inappropriate dietary intake coupled with wide variation in bioavailability (based on the presence of iron absorption inhibitors in the diet) are some of the important factors responsible for iron deficiency. Iron supplementation can be targeted to high-risk groups (eg, pregnant women) and can be cost-effective. Iron fortification of food can prevent iron deficiency in at-risk populations. Selective plant breeding and genetic engineering are promising new approaches to improve dietary iron nutrition quality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*


  • Iron