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

3 min read /
General Nutrition Obstetrics / Gynaecology Public health

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.

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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