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Open Access Milk fortified with iron or iron supplementation to improve nutritional status of pregnant women: An intervention trial from rural Vietnam

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Anemia is still the major nutritional problem among pregnant women in Southeast Asia. The objective of this study was to measure hemoglobin status and reduction of underweight in a group of pregnant women who received iron-fortified or nonfortified milk, and another group who received iron supplements (tablets) or placebo. The 44 women in the iron-fortified milk group received 15 mg of iron per day per 400 ml of milk, and 41 women received placebo. The 40 women in the iron supplement group received 60 mg of iron per day, and 43 women received nonfortified milk. During this intervention trial, all women were supervised from the 14th to the 18th week of gestation until delivery. Blood was sampled at 0, 5, 10, and 16 weeks of intervention. After the 16th week of intervention, the changes in hemoglobin (ΔHb) concentrations in both treatment groups (the iron-fortified milk and the iron tablet groups) were not significantly different (ΔHb: –0.5 ± 0.9 and –0.3 ± 0.9 g/L, respectively), but the changes were significantly greater in the nonfortified milk and placebo groups (ΔHb: –1.2 ± 0.9 and –1.1 ± 0.8 g/L, respectively; p < .01). The change in transferrin saturation (ΔTS) in the iron-fortified milk group (ΔTS: 3.4 ± 12.9%) was greater than that in the placebo and nonfortified milk groups (ΔTS: –10.1 ± 9.8% and –11.6 ± 10.7 %, respectively) (p < .01). The weight gain of the subjects during intervention did not differ significantly in the fortified and nonfortified milk groups (Δweight: 5.0 ± 2.0 and 5.8 ± 2.1 kg, respectively), but was higher than in the iron tablet group (Δweight: 4.6 ± 3.1 kg; p < .05) and the placebo group (Δweight: 3.8 ± 2.5 kg; p < .001). Iron supplementation and fortification were seen to be effective in promoting weight gain in pregnant Vietnamese women. For women who are underweight, the administration of iron-fortified milk has additional benefits to those of supplementation, most likely due to additional energy and nutrient inputs.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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