Iron deficiency in pregnancy

Women's iron requirements increase during pregnancy to a total of about 1000 mg during pregnancy. In many women, iron status is compromised prior to pregnancy. This combination of depleted body stores and high demand of the growing foetus increases the risk for the mother to develop an iron deficiency or iron deficiency anaemia during pregnancy.

Consequences and recommendations

Iron deficiency can have adverse effects on both mother and infant, such as a higher incidence of premature birth, infants' low birth weight and life-long neurocognitive impairement. To counter these effects the WHO recommends iron supplementation for all pregnant women (100 mg of iron/day in non-anaemic women during the second half of pregnancy) (Fisher & Nemeth, 2017, WHO/ FAO, 2004).

For more information iron deficiency, anaemia, iron in human milk vs infant formula, supplementation and iron metabolism see here.