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Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy is a public health problem that may increase the risk of preterm birth with low birth weight infants and the high cost of neonatal intensive care. This quasi - experimental study in Thailand examined the effects of a balanced diet-iron supplement program on maternal and birth outcomes. The participants were pregnant women with anemia aged between 20-35 years and had a gestational age of 20-24 weeks. The experimental group (n = 40) received a balanced diet-iron supplement program in addition to usual care, whereas the control group (n = 40) received only usual care. The data collection instruments included: the personal information form, laboratory report of hematocrit, the INMUCAL-Nutrients V.3 software, iron supplement record sheet, a 3-day dietary record, a weight and height scale, and a baby weighing scale.Data were analyzed by descriptive statistics, Chi-square test, and McMemar test.
The results revealed that the proportion of participants in the experimental group had normal hematocrit, adequate dietary intake, adherence to iron supplement, and appropriate total weight gain significantly higher than those in the control group. In addition, the proportion of preterm birth and low birth weight baby in the experimental group were lower than those in the control group. The Balanced Diet-Iron Supplement Program of this study should be tested with other groups of women in different settings, but it has the good potential for nurses, midwives, and women to utilize in practice. Pregnant women with iron deficiency need assistance, knowledge, and practicing with meal plans to eat a balanced diet
and adhere to iron supplements to improve maternal health and prevent adverse birth outcomes.
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