Can lactoferrin correct iron deficiency in pregnancy more effectively than iron supplements to prevent low birthweight, preterm birth and potentially improve neonatal survival?

The University of Sydney
Organization Location: 
Sydney, Australia

Lactoferrin, a safe, naturally occurring iron-binding protein found in high concentration in breast milk, offers an exciting new approach to correct iron deficiency early in pregnancy, prevent low birth weight, preterm delivery and reduce neonatal deaths. It has few side effects, facilitates absorption of iron, and reduces maternal inflammation to enhance the utilization of iron giving it the potential to rapidly restore iron status in pregnant women, even in populations with high burdens of infectious diseases. Adding riboflavin and vitamin will further improve the utilization of iron and help improve the efficacy of the supplements. Oral bovine lactoferrin, plus vitamin A and riboflavin, is a novel, unconventional way to prevent low birthweight, preterm birth & neonatal deaths associated with maternal iron deficiency in low income settings. The current paradigm of using iron supplements (and folic acid) targeted at pregnant women often fails, in part because of the side effects, which are a strong barrier to use of the supplements early in pregnancy, a period of vulnerability for iron deficient women and their fetus and future newborn. And also because maternal inflammation and micronutrient deficiencies block effective utilization of iron Our approach will provide a product that will efficiently deliver iron and that can be taken early in pregnancy during a critical intervention window, which offers the potential to prevent neonatal deaths. It may also lead to more rapid restoration of iron status and allow programs to reduce the frequency of antenatal supplementation and reduce overall program costs.

See video