Iron is an essential nutrient required in pregnancy to produce hemoglobin (blood) for mother and fetus. Iron helps to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the mother and fetus. Sufficient iron can prevent anemia and weakening of the mother’s immune system, thus reducing the possibility of an infection. Higher level of hemoglobin not only increases the oxygen carrying capacity but also helps with the blood loss occurring during delivery. Anemia occurring during pregnancy can increase the risk of pre- term birth and perinatal mortality. Some examples of dietary sources of iron are meats such as lean beef or chicken, salmons, lentils and spinach. To reduce the possibility of iron deficiency, supplements such as lactoferrin can be considered.
Lactoferrin regulates the absorption of delivery of iron to our body. It protects against bacterial infection by depriving the bacteria of essential nutrients. Lactoferrin in breast milk is found to protect breast fed infants against bacterial infections. Consuming adequate amount of lactoferrin in pregnancy can also reduce the risks of pre-term delivery and reduce neonatal death.