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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIH Launches Global Trial to Study Iron Treatment for Post-Pregnancy Anemia

A pregnant woman holds her stomach


NIH-funded researchers are launching a large study to evaluate a single dose of intravenous iron to treat women experiencing anemia after giving birth. The study will enroll nearly 5,000 women in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zambia and Guatemala. 

Researchers in the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health, a group of clinical sites funded by NICHD, will conduct the study. The Foundation for the NIH is providing more than $6 million in funding for the study, with contributions from a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Participants will be randomized to receive either a single dose of intravenous iron solution between 6 and 48 hours after giving birth or a 6-week supply of oral iron supplements. According to the standard of care, both groups also will receive the vitamin folate.

Iron deficiency anemia increases sharply among individuals after birth. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, reduced cognitive abilities and depression. Anemia may also compromise a mother’s ability to provide care for her baby.

Previous studies have found intravenous iron to be effective at preventing anemia in pregnancy, but it has not been studied as a treatment for anemia after pregnancy. Researchers will compare the prevalence of mild anemia, iron levels, depression scores, quality of life scores and other measures between the two groups to assess effectiveness.

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