e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Daily iron and folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

It is estimated that more than 40% of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic. At least half of this anaemia burden is assumed to be due to iron deficiency.

Pregnant women require additional iron and folic acid to meet their own nutritional needs as well as those of the developing fetus. Deficiencies in iron and folic acid during pregnancy can potentially negatively impact the health of the mother, her pregnancy, as well as fetal development.

Evidence has shown that the use of iron and folic acid supplements is associated with a reduced risk of iron deficiency and anaemia in pregnant women.

WHO recommendations

Daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation with 30 mg to 60 mg of elemental iron* and 400 µg (0.4 mg) folic acid** is recommended for pregnant women to prevent maternal anaemia, puerperal sepsis, low birth weight, and preterm birth.***

*The equivalent of 60 mg of elemental iron is 300 mg ferrous sulfate heptahydrate, 180 mg ferrous fumarate or 500 mg of ferrous gluconate.
** Folic acid should be commenced as early as possible (ideally before conception) to prevent neural tube defects.
*** This recommendation supercedes the previous recommendation found within the WHO guideline ‘Daily iron and folic acid supplementation in pregnant women’ (2012).

*************

Additional information for this recommendation can be found in the guidance summary and in the guideline, under 'WHO documents' below.

This is one of several WHO recommendations on iron and folic acid supplementation. The full set of recommendations can be found in 'Full set of recommendations'.

WHO documents

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines
Evidence

Evidence


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

10 January 2017 16:49 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Essential Nutrition Actions

This intervention is an Essential Nutrition Action targeting the first 1000 days of life.

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global nutrition targets

Target 1: 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted

Target 2: 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age

Target 3: 30% reduction in low birth weight


Target 6: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%