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Mudford, England by Ralph Teller
Ralph Teller

Mother's Sufficient Iron Stores during early Pregnancy Vital to Infant Health

Ralph Teller

A Mother's Iron Stores in Early Pregnancy impact Infant Birthweight.

Findings from a recent study published in Human Reproduction reaffirm the importance of maintaining adequate stores of iron to promote infant health. Adequate levels of iron in a mother is important prior to, or early in, pregnancy to promote a healthy infant birthweight (IBW).

The study concluded that non-anaemic pregnant women with depleted iron stores in early pregnancy have children who are smaller than those from women who begin pregnancy with non-depleted iron stores. Women with initial iron-depletion delivered babies weighing on average 192 g less than that with initial iron stores.

Prior studies have found that iron-deficiency during pregnancy is linked to important adverse health effects for the mother and fetus, such as increased rates of premature birth, low infant birthweight, and delayed maturation and cognitive and motor capacity of the child. IBW also negatively influenced by a smoking habit during pregnancy.

Iron is needed as it is a key ingredient to make Red Blood Cells. Iron is also the central atom in Red Blood Cell's Hemoglobin that binds with Oxygen delivering Oxygen to cells throughout the body.

The body contains more Red Blood Cells than any other type of cell. Each Red Blood Cell has a life span of about 120 days. Red Blood Cells must be continually replaced. Iron is essential to continually replenish Red Blood Cells. Adequate supplies of iron in our diet is important to continued overall health. See Iron and Human Physiology

Natural Food Sources of Iron and Iron Recommended Dietary Allowance

Iron like other nutrient needs should be met primarily naturally through consuming foods rich in Iron. However, during pregnancy, especially for women that tend to be anaemic, iron supplements taken under a doctors supervision may be advisable. Natural foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. Certain foods aid in the absorption of Iron and others lessen Iron absorption. But first, there are two main types of Iron.

Heme Iron and Nonheme Iron. Iron is found in both animal and plant foods, but in different forms. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells and is found in beef and turkey. Nonheme Iron is found in plant foods such as lentils and beans and has a different chemical structure than heme Iron. Heme Iron is absorbed better than nonheme Iron.

Food Sources of HEME IRON from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Natural Sources of Heme Iron

Food Sources of NONHEME IRON from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Natural Food Sources of Nonheme Iron

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Articles on Iron, Health and Athletics

PublicationDietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron , National Institute of Health

Publication Depleted Iron Stores Without Anaemia Early in Pregnancy Carries Increased Risk of Lower Birthweight Even When Supplemented Daily With Moderate Iron, B. Ribot; N. Aranda , Human Reproduction, Oxford University Press

PublicationThe Crucial Role of Iron in the Body, Washington University in St. Louis

Hemoglobin and the Heme Group: Metal Complexes in the Blood for Oxygen Transport, Washington University in St. Louis

PublicationIron Deficiency,Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

PublicationEnergy for the Body,Washington University in St. Louis

PublicationThe Iron Story,Dr. Mark A. Jenkins, Rice University

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