Iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy – what are the solutions?

Emma Derbyshire (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Publication date: 2 November 2010



Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) is a common problem in pregnancy and may influence the health of both mother and child. The purpose of this paper is to discuss current prevention and treatment strategies for pregnancy IDA and describe alternative methods, such as food‐based approaches that may be another way forward.


A literature review was conducted to locate and summarise up‐to‐date published studies within the field.


There is good evidence that iron supplements may be used to prevent and treat IDA in pregnancy. However, there is much debate about “the optimal” dose to recommend. High doses may contribute to oxidative stress and cause gastrointestinal symptoms while there still remain problems with compliance, even for lower dose iron supplements. Encouraging the daily consumption of functional foods containing suitable levels of iron may therefore be an alternative way to improve pregnancy iron status.

Research limitations/implications

There is a wealth of important studying the health implications of iron supplements in pregnancy. More work is needed to establish whether functional foods containing iron could be an alternative way to help improve iron status.


Most papers and research focus on supplement use as a preventative measure and treatment for IDA; few discuss other approaches.



Derbyshire, E. (2010), "Iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy – what are the solutions?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 40 No. 6, pp. 598-607.

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