Research Research and Professional Briefs| Volume 114, ISSUE 12, P1967-1973, December 2014

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Iron Deficiency Is Associated with Food Insecurity in Pregnant Females in the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2010


      Food-insecure pregnant females may be at greater risk of iron deficiency (ID) because nutrition needs increase and more resources are needed to secure food during pregnancy. This may result in a higher risk of infant low birth weight and possibly cognitive impairment in the neonate. The relationships of food insecurity and poverty income ratio (PIR) with iron intake and ID among pregnant females in the United States were investigated using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2010 data (n=1,045). Food security status was classified using the US Food Security Survey Module. One 24-hour dietary recall and a 30-day supplement recall were used to assess iron intake. Ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, or total body iron classified ID. Difference of supplement intake prevalence, difference in mean iron intake, and association of ID and food security status or PIR were assessed using χ2 analysis, Student t test, and logistic regression analysis (adjusted for age, race, survey year, PIR/food security status, education, parity, trimester, smoking, C-reactive protein level, and health insurance coverage), respectively. Mean dietary iron intake was similar among groups. Mean supplemental and total iron intake were lower, whereas odds of ID, classified by ferritin status, were 2.90 times higher for food-insecure pregnant females compared with food-secure pregnant females. Other indicators of ID were not associated with food security status. PIR was not associated with iron intake or ID. Food insecurity status may be a better indicator compared with income status to identify populations at whom to direct interventions aimed at improving access and education regarding iron-rich foods and supplements.


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      C. Y. Park is a postdoctoral fellow, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, and a postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, BK21 Plus KNU Biomedical Convergence Program, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.


      H. A. Eicher-Miller is an assistant professor, Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.