e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Iron and folic acid supplementation to prevent anaemia in postpartum women

Anaemia is an important public health problem worldwide, particularly among women of reproductive age. A substantial portion of this anaemia burden is assumed to be due to iron deficiency. The consequences of anaemia resulting from iron deficiency during the postpartum period (six weeks after child birth) can be serious and have long-term health implications for the mother and her child.

WHO recommends intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation as a public health intervention for menstruating women living in settings where anaemia is highly prevalent. In the postpartum period, iron and folic acid supplementation may also reduce the risk of anaemia by improving iron status of the mother.

WHO recommendations

Iron and folic acid supplementation should be provided to women for at least three months after delivery.

A suggested scheme for iron and folic acid supplementation in postpartum women can be found in the WHO guidance document, Pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and newborn care: A guide for essential practice, under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

23 October 2014 12:38 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee