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Keywords:

  • anemia;
  • iron deficiency;
  • iron supplementation;
  • pre-conception supplementation;
  • pregnancy

Anemia and iron deficiency affect billions of people worldwide, especially women of reproductive age, pregnant women, and young children. Many countries have iron and folic acid supplementation programs for pregnant women. However, the impact of these programs is uncertain. Multiple-micronutrient supplementation during pregnancy has been advocated; however, it is unclear whether this has additional advantages. Overall, programs have shown only modest impact on increasing birth weight. This review discusses the present state of knowledge on interventions to improve iron status during pregnancy and reproductive health, and investigates other possibilities such as supplementation prior to conception to improve maternal and child health.