Objective: To study the effectiveness of an oral iron supplement administered only three times a week in improving the iron status of pregnant women.
Design: A longitudinal prospective cohort study.
Setting: University antenatal clinic, Galle.
Patients & Methods: Serum ferritin (SF), haemoglobin (Hb), and haematocrit (Hct) were measured in 77 pregnant women before and 12 weeks after an oral iron supplement given three times a week. An anthelmintic (mebendazole) followed by haematinic capsule containing interalia U7mg of elemental iron as ferrous fumarate and 75mg vitamin C was used. Comparisons were made of the proportions of subjects with anaemia and iron deficiency before and after supplementation, and the change in mean SF, mean Hb and mean Hct levels.
Results: The mean Hb increased by 0.6 g/dL (SED 0.22, p<0.01) in spite of a mean decrease of Hct by 2% (SED 0.7, p<0.01). The number of subjects who presented with Hb<8g/dL and SF<12ng/mL decreased from 13(19%) to 1(1.2%) after supplementation (p<0.05). The mean Hb and mean SF increased significantly in the subjects who presented. with an initial Hb<llg/dL and SF<12ng/mL (p<0.001). However the mean Hb and mean SF decreased in those who presented with an initial Hb>llg/dL and SF>12ng/mL (p<0.01).
Conclusion: Antenatal iron supplements given only thrice a week meets the additional iron requirements of pregnancy and improves the iron status of both anaemic and iron deficient pregnant women.