Are iron supplements worth the money?

Not if you’re taking them to help your pregnancy. According to a review of the literature on iron supplementation and screening for pregnant women, babies and young children, conducted by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)—the body that sets many of the nation’s medical guidelines—taking iron supplements during pregnancy doesn’t appear to significantly change any health outcomes for mom or baby. And another review, one on infants and toddlers, found no evidence that iron supplements improved growth or development.

The study on pregnant women was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study on children appeared in Pediatrics.

The USPSTF now says that there isn’t enough evidence to recommend that pregnant women or infants and children take iron supplements or be screened for iron deficiencies. On the other hand, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend against it either.

The recommendations regarding prenatal supplements haven’t changed from those in 2006. But where USPSTF guidelines previously called for routine iron screening in pregnant women, they no longer recommend it.

An otherwise healthy pregnant woman who does not have symptoms of iron deficiency does not need more than 27 milligrams per day, according to Institute of Medicine recommendations.

As always, discuss vitamin and mineral supplementation with your doctor before starting any new supplement.

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