[Science Update] Intervention of iron supplements for iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a typical micronutrient deficiency in pregnant women with severe outcomes. The present animal study aimed at evaluating the effects of three iron supplements on female IDA rats and their offspring.

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Establishment of IDA model group (IDAG)

  • 5-week-old female Wistar rats
  • Received an 8-week treatment with low iron diet, deionized water and weekly bloodletting
  • With haemoglobin content <90 g/L were considered as IDA
  • Subsequently mated with 5-week-old male Wistar rats


  • After pregnancy, rats in IDAG were fed diets containing 3 different iron supplements until offspring turned 42 days old
    • Ferrous sulfate (FS)
    • Iron protein succinylate (IPS)
    • Iron polysaccharide complex (IPC)
  • Randomly divided into 7 groups except normal control group (NG)
    • IDAG
    • Low dose of IPC at iron dose of 30 mg·kg−1 (IPC-L)
    • High dose of IPC at iron dose of 50 mg·kg−1 (IPC-H)
    • Low dose of IPS at iron dose of 30 mg·kg−1 (IPS-L)
    • High dose of IPC at iron dose of 50 mg·kg−1 (IPS-H)
    • Low dose of FS at iron dose of 30 mg·kg−1 (FS-L)
    • High dose of FS at iron dose of 50 mg·kg−1 (FS-H)

Effects of iron supplementation on maternal rats
(When compared to those in IDAG)

  • Significantly improved pregnancy outcomes
  • Improved immune-inflammatory status which has been altered by IDA
  • Increased levels of serum iron (SI), transferrin saturation (TS) and serum ferritin (SF)
  • Significantly decreased level of total iron binding capacity (TIBC)
  • Iron stores in the liver and spleen increased upon iron supplementation

Effects of iron supplementation on offspring
(When compared to those in IDAG)

  • The levels of HGB, HCT, MCV, CHCM and CH# were higher than those in IDAG
  • The level of RDW# was significantly lower
  • The immune-inflammatory status of offspring of IDA rats was improved
  • The onset time of surface righting reflex, cliff avoidance, negative geotropism and air righting reflex was significantly earlier, with no significant difference with NG
  • Improved spatial learning ability which has been affected by IDA
  • Improved abnormal and retarded neurodevelopment of IDA offspring by increasing protein expression of SYN1, NMDAR and PSD-95

#HGB = haemoglobin; HCT = hematocrit; MCV = mean corpuscular volume; CHCM = cell haemoglobin concentration mean; CH = haemoglobin content of red blood cell; RDW = red cell volume distribution width

Link to the full article:


Zhang Q et al. Adverse effects of iron deficiency anemia on pregnancy outcome and offspring development and intervention of three iron supplements. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):1347.

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