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Iron Intake May Not Improve Pregnancy Chances

Modest benefits seen from nonheme iron for women at risk for iron deficiency

TUESDAY, June 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There is little association between iron intake and chances of conception overall, according to a study published online June 1 in the Journal of Nutrition.

Kristen A. Hahn, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues used data from two prospective cohort studies of pregnancy planners from Denmark (Snart Foraeldre; 1,693 women) and North America (PRESTO; 2,969 women) from 2013 to 2018. Follow-up measures included menstrual cycles until pregnancy, fertility treatment, whether a participant stopped trying to conceive, and 12 cycles of attempt.

The researchers found little association between dietary heme iron intake and fecundability in either cohort. The fecundability ratios (FRs) for nonheme iron intake (≥11 mg/day versus <9 mg/day) were 1.11 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.92 to 1.34) and 1.01 (95 percent CI, 0.89 to 1.14) for Snart Foraeldre and PRESTO participants, respectively. The FRs for iron-containing supplements were 1.01 (95 percent CI, 0.90 to 1.13) and 1.19 (95 percent CI, 1.03 to 1.38) in Snart Foraeldre and PRESTO, respectively. Stronger positive associations were found for nonheme iron intake and iron supplement use among women with heavy menses or short menstrual cycles in PRESTO, but not in the Snart Foraeldre cohort.

“For the average pregnancy planner, it is probably wise to take a preconception multivitamin, but more for the folic acid than for the iron content,” a coauthor said in a statement. “If you have extremely heavy menstrual cycles, it might be a good idea to have your iron status checked by your health care provider.”

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