Introduction to workshop on iron screening and supplementation in iron-replete pregnant women and young children

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec;106(Suppl 6):1547S-1554S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.155747. Epub 2017 Oct 25.


The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements convened a public workshop on iron screening and supplementation in iron-replete pregnant women and young children in 2016 in Bethesda, Maryland. The starting point for the workshop was the recent reports from the US Preventive Services Task Force concluding that there was insufficient evidence to evaluate the benefits and harms associated with iron screening and routine supplementation among asymptomatic pregnant women and young children (6-24 mo old) in the United States. The goal of the workshop was to explore and refine understanding about the existing knowledge gaps and research needs associated with these preventive services for these groups. Given the focus on the United States, planning for the workshop took into account the higher iron status in the United States compared with developing countries and, in turn, included a focus on iron-replete individuals consistent with the U-shaped risk curve for nutrient-health relations. Topic areas included adaptations in iron homeostasis associated with pregnancy and young childhood, the impact of inflammation, measurement of iron status, current estimates of iron status for pregnant women and young children in the United States and in Europe, and emerging evidence suggesting adverse effects associated with iron supplementation of iron-replete individuals. A crosscutting dialogue conducted at the close of the workshop formed the basis for a workshop summary that specified evidence gaps and research needs in a range of areas centered on the relation of these adaptations of iron homeostasis with the response to and risk from iron supplementation as well as the need for indicators informative of the full continuum of iron status and based on health outcomes, not just erythropoiesis.

Keywords: infancy; iron; iron screening; iron supplementation; pregnancy; young childhood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood*
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Maryland
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Hematologic / prevention & control*
  • Preventive Health Services
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Iron