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Iron improves birth weight

Women who are pregnant are more likely to have iron-deficiency anemia, raising chances for their newborns to be low birth weight and premature. Researchers analyzed 48 studies covering 17,793 women who took from 10 mg to 240 mg of iron per day or a placebo, and another 44 studies that measured iron in the diets of 1.8 million women.

Overall, women who took iron supplements had higher levels of hemoglobin—iron-containing protein —than those who did not, and were half as likely to be anemic. For every 10 mg increase in iron per day, chances of anemia declined by 12 percent.

Looking at births, women taking iron were 19 percent less likely to give birth to a low-weight baby, and their babies weighed 41.2 grams more on average than those of women who did not take iron. Doctors also found for each 10 mg increase in iron per day, birth weight increased by 15 percent and chances for low birth weight declined by 3 percent. 

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