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Read Original Story

Supplements aid fertility

Rating

3 Star

Supplements aid fertility

Our Review Summary

This story provides a summary of recent data from the Nurses' Health Study II on iron intake as it relates to lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Iron deficiency is relatively common in women of childbearing age, and a lack of iron may be one factor related to ovulation infertility; however, attention to the iron status of women with ovulatory dysfunction is new.  Further research is needed in this area.

 

The story briefly describes the study, but does not mention that the Nurses Health Study II is a longitudinal, cohort study where women (in this case, women of child-bearing age) self-report their dietary intake, as well as other health behaviors and conditions. There was an association between increased iron intake and a lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Since these women were trying to get pregnant, they may have engaged in other health and fertility-increasing behaviors in addition to iron supplementation, so a randomized controlled trial is needed to see if, in fact, iron plays a significant role in reducing ovulatory infertility.

 

The story appropriately mentions that researchers controlled for age, smoking, obesity, and physical activity, which may increase ovulatory infertility. 

The story does not mention potential side effects of iron supplements. They may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation, and diarrhea, and in rare cases, toxicity from iron overload.

The story also does not include any input from practitioners for a clinical perspective of iron deficiency as it relates to ovulatory function and fertility. Only one source is cited and no one is quoted. 

This was a news brief – only 143 words.  News organizations should evaluate the harms and benefits of trying to explain complex research findings in such briefs.  What is the impact on a woman with infertility who reads such a brief? 

 

 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The story does not provide the cost of iron supplements.  However, it is fairly common knowledge that iron supplements are inexpensive. And the story does mention that the form of iron associated with improved fertility can be found in found in fortified, non-animal  food sources, including legumes and grains. 

 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story only provides the relative risk reduction of ovulation infertility associated with iron supplementation.  The story appropriately mentions that researchers controlled for age, smoking, obesity, and physical activity which can affect infertility. The story does not mention that this type of study only showed an association between increased iron intake and lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Randomized controlled trials are needed to see just how much women with ovulation infertility would benefit from pre-natal iron supplementation.

 

 

 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Iron supplements may cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation, and diarrhea. There are also risks from iron overload. The story does not mention these potential side effects.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story briefly describes the study, but does not mention that the Nurses' Health Study II is a longitudinal cohort study where women (in this case, women of child-bearing age) self-report their dietary intake, as well as other health behaviors and conditions. There was an association  between increased iron intake and lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Since these women were trying to get pregnant, the may have engaged in other health and fertility-increasing behaviors in addition to iron supplementation, so a randomized controlled trial is needed to see if, in fact, iron plays a significant role in improving fertility in women.

No note is made about the limitations of such evidence or such evidence from one small trial. What is the impact on infertile women who read such a story?

This study cannot say anything about "reversing infertility" (alluded to in the opening hook sentence for the article), and is not an analysis that brings any information to the topic of reversing infetility.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering.  Iron deficiency is relatively common among women of childbearing age, and a lack of iron may be one factor related to ovulatory infertility. The story mentions that failure to ovulate is the second leading cause of infertility, after blocked fallopian tubes.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The story does include any practitioners for clinical perspectives on iron deficiency as it relates to infertility, or iron supplementation as part of pre-conception care. Only one source is cited and no one is quoted.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story does list food sources where iron is available, as well as the amount of iron associated with greatest reduction in ovulatory infertility. More research is needed in this area.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

It's clear that iron supplements are readily available to most people.  The story notes that iron is also in many plant and animal foods, and many foods are iron-enriched.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story provides a summary of recent data from the Nurses' Health Study II on iron intake and lower risk of ovulatory infertility. The practice of pre-natal nutritional supplementation is not new.  Attention to the iron status of women with ovulatory dysfunction is new and further research on this topic would qualify as novel.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can't be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release. However, the story showed no evidence of original reporting and quoted no independent sources of information.

Total Score: 4 of 8 Satisfactory

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