12:00 AM, November 13, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 13, 2016

Health bulletin

Raising questions about iron supplementation recommendations

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New research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]) shows that high levels of iron biomarkers in the body are associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) in pregnant women, raising questions about routine recommendations on iron supplementation in pregnancy.

Iron is regarded as a double-edged sword in living systems, as both iron deficiency and excess can be harmful. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency and related adverse pregnancy outcomes.

While a few guidelines, including those from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommend screening and treatment only as necessary for iron deficiency, several other groups such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommend routine iron supplementation among pregnant women.

Emerging evidence has pointed to a possible link between higher iron stores and abnormal blood sugar control in non-pregnant individuals.

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