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Myth Buster: Having iron tablets makes your child dark skinned

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  • February 7, 2021
  • MKB Team

One of the Top 10 pregnancy myths is that having iron tablets makes your child dark skinned. We decided to bust this myth once and all before it does further damage.
For the record, what you eat or drink during your pregnancy may influence your health as well as your baby’s health but does not influence your baby’s complexion in any way whatsoever. The colour of a baby’s skin is determined by the baby’s genes, which he or she gets from you and your husband at the time of conception. Anything else is a figment of imagination from a successful myth creator.
In fact, this is a worrying myth as iron is so crucial both before and after pregnancy. Iron is needed to create blood cells and haemoglobin, which enables our red blood cells to store and carry oxygen around our bodies. Without sufficient iron in your blood, the organs and tissues in your body will be deprived of the amount of
oxygen that it needs, and this is neither good for you nor your baby.

More iron is required in pregnancy for to-be-moms to keep themselves healthy and fit. Pregnant ladies who boast of good iron levels have good immunity towards infections like coughs and colds and are less likely to pick them up. Enough iron is also needed for moms to meet the requirements of a growing baby. Iron deficiency
can also lead to a disease like anaemia, and in the event that the anaemia turns severe, many complications can arise such as:


 A case of preterm birth.


 A baby who is small in size for his stage.


 A baby with a birth weight on the lower side.

 A baby who is born with low iron levels, which could also affect his physical and mental development.

Research indicates that almost 6 out of 10 pregnant women in India are anaemic. That’s a staggering percentage of 60 percent, and that’s alarming. That is precisely why doctors recommend that all pregnant women should take iron pills. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Note that you need to take these iron pills daily from the beginning of your second trimester of pregnancy unless of course your doctor recommends otherwise. But this is more or less the standard practice. The dosage needs to continue till the end of your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding for effective lactation.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that most of our dietary intake is rich in cereals. As a result, little iron is on offer for the body that it so desperately needs. Hence, apart from the iron pills consumed daily during pregnancy, you also need to include plenty of iron-rich foods in your pregnancy diet plan such as pulses, sprouts, green leafy vegetables and non-vegetarian food like fish and meat. If
you are vegan, you can skip the non-veg part. But as iron is absorbed more easily from non-veg food, you need more intake of iron by fine tuning your diet with iron rich food especially if you are both vegetarian and pregnant. It’s important to know exactly how much iron your body needs when you are pregnant however, and how you can have an iron-rich diet. Your dietician will be the best person to guide you on this. By consuming the right kind of food and without skipping your daily dose of iron pills and by shattering the myth that we intend to with this article, you should be blessed with all the iron that you need. More iron and more power to moms!

Did you enjoy reading this article? Do you have something related to busting pregnancy myths exactly like this one that you wish to share with us? Write to us with your suggestions and tips related to this article! We’d love to hear from you. We would also welcome any questions that we would love to address on our increasingly popular Q&A session, where you ask the questions and our experts
answer.

Q&A
You ask and we answer!

Do iron supplements cause dark skin?
Manjula Deshpande, Lucknow.
Iron supplements can cause skin darkening to a certain extent.
Although iron is necessary for many important physiological
functions, too much iron accumulation can affect organs such as liver
and skin. Excess iron in the body is responsible for causing for
hypermelanosis (excess production of skin pigment melanin)

Can iron pills turn your urine dark?
Pooja Nagraj, Coorg.
Medications that can make your urine darker include: antimalarials
like chloroquine (Aralen) and primaquine. antibacterial drugs, such as
furazolidone (Furoxone), metronidazole (Flagyl), and nitrofurantoin
(Macrobid) iron supplements.

Can taking iron tablets affect my baby?
Marian Chandy, Muscat.
No! Do read the article for better understanding if you already
haven’t. When they looked at trials examining birth outcomes they
found that iron supplements led to a 19% reduction in risk of having
a low birth weight baby.

Is it OK to take an iron supplement every day?
Priyasha Gupta, New Delhi.
Yes. For the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia in adults, 100 to
200 mg of elemental iron per day has been recommended. The best
way to take the supplement so that you absorb the greatest amount
of iron is to take it in two or more doses during the day. However,
extended-release iron products may be taken once a day.

What are the side effects of taking iron tablets?
Jahnvi Varma, Indore.
The following side effects may occur:
 Feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting), stomach discomfort
or heartburn.
 loss of appetite.
 constipation.
 diarrhoea.
 dark or black poo.
 black stained teeth (from the liquid only)

Can a mother having iron tablets make her baby dark skinned?
Seema Jha, Bokaro.
This is nothing but a myth as the article above illustrates and
explains. The colour of a baby’s skin is determined by the baby’s
genes, which s/he gets from you and your husband at the time of
conception.

Published by

MKB Team

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