It has been shown that the incidence of megaloblastic anaemia in a group of 463 randomly selected pregnant women receiving iron was 12 times as high as in a control group of 235 pregnant women receiving iron and folic acid. The incidence of all types of anaemia in the women receiving iron alone was more than three times the incidence in those having iron and folic acid. Some women who were not anaemic or who had normoblastic anaemia had serum folate levels in the same range as the women with megaloblastic anaemia, but none of the women with megaloblastic anaemia had high serum folate levels. The labile fraction of the serum folate was no more reliable than the total serum folate as a diagnostic criterion of megaloblastic erythropoiesis in the individual case. The blood group distribution in the women with megaloblastic anaemia was the same as in the general population. Babies born to mothers with megaloblastic anaemia tended to be smaller than the rest, although there was no difference in the placental weights.
The significance of these findings is discussed.
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