by Dr. Leo Galland
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in the world and is a frequent complication of pregnancy. Supplements of iron may help to correct anemia but frequently produce gastrointestinal side effects.
The dietary supplement lactoferrin, a protein derived from milk, binds to iron and increases its absorption. Research done at the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Naples in Italy, found that taking lactoferrin capsules was as effective as iron supplements in correcting anemia among healthy pregnant women.
The researchers conclude: “The results show that bovine lactoferrin has the same efficacy as ferrous sulfate in restoring iron deposits with significantly fewer gastrointestinal side effects.”
Reference and Abstract:
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2009;88(9):1031-5. Efficacy and tolerability of oral bovine lactoferrin compared to ferrous sulfate in pregnant women with iron deficiency anemia: a prospective controlled randomized study. Nappi C, Tommaselli GA, Morra I, Massaro M, Formisano C, Di Carlo C. Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Naples Federico II, Via S. Pansini 5, Naples, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of bovine lactoferrin with ferrous sulfate on iron nutritional status and to evaluate their tolerability in 100 pregnant women with iron deficiency anemia.
DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, controlled, double blind trial.
SETTING: Obstetrics clinic of a University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
POPULATION: One-hundred pregnant, healthy women to be treated either with one capsule of 100 mg bovine lactoferrin twice a day (Group A; n=49) and 520 mg ferrous sulfate once a day (Group B; n=48).
METHODS: After 30 days, we evaluated hemoglobin (Hb), serum ferritin, serum iron and total iron- binding capacity (TIBC) values. All women were asked to keep a diary of five potential gastrointestinal side effects (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation). For each symptom, patients had to rate its severity according to a scale ranging from 0 (absent) to 3 (severe).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Hb level before and after treatment. Secondary outcomes were serum ferritin, serum iron and TIBC levels and the difference in symptom scores between groups.
RESULTS: In Groups A and B, Hb, serum ferritin and iron were significantly increased while TIBC was significantly reduced in comparison with basal values. No significant differences were observed between Groups A and B. The median scores of abdominal pain and constipation were significantly higher in patients treated with ferrous sulfate in comparison with those treated with bovine lactoferrin.
CONCLUSIONS: The results show that bovine lactoferrin has the same efficacy as ferrous sulfate in restoring iron deposits with significantly fewer gastrointestinal side effects.