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Keywords:

  • Iron;
  • zinc;
  • folate;
  • pregnancy

Iron, zinc and folate statuses of 45 women were determined during pregnancy around 12, 20, 28, 32 and 36 weeks, and again 2 months after delivery. Analyses of plasma ferritin, Hb, MCV, folate and zinc in plasma and whole blood were performed. Iron supplementation was recommended from mid-pregnancy but 13 of the participants did not use the iron supplements. This group had significantly decreased levels of plasma ferritin and MCV at the end of pregnancy, but none developed anemia. Two months post partum the plasma ferritin of the unsupplemented group had normalized and was in the same range as in the supplemented group. The concentrations of zinc in plasma and whole blood and the calculated levels of red cells were low even at the first examination around 12 weeks of gestation, compared with non-pregnant women. Throughout the course of pregnancy the plasma zinc levels continued to decrease, while the whole blood and red cell levels showed a significant rise. At term of gestation almost half the women had subnormal plasma folate levels (L. casei), which persisted during the post partum follow-up. The corresponding value for red cell folate was 10% below normal values at term and 30% subnormal 2 months after parturition. These findings stress the importance of extending the observation period to include also the lactating period, in order to judge the need for folate supplementation.