iron deficiency anemia during pregnancyDoes iron deficiency anemia (IDA) during pregnancy affect the mental development of the fetus? Researchers from United Nations Children’s Fund Office for China recently completed a study claims there is a connection between the two. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Information collected as part of a double-blind study on supplementation during pregnancy was used for the study. Infants born to women involved in the study were followed for two years after giving birth. Children were evaluated at three, six, 12, 18 and 24 months of age.

Women were split into IDA and non-IDA groups based on hemoglobin tests completed in the third trimester of pregnancy. By 12 months, infants born to IDA mothers showed signs of delayed mental development. Treatment with iron-based prenatal supplements prevented developmental delay.

Conclusion: Pregnant women with iron deficiency anemia should be made aware of the benefits of taking iron-based prenatal supplements when iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed. With treatment, no long-term mental developmental delays were noted even if IDA was not resolved with said treatment.

Source: Chang S, Zeng L, Brouwer ID, Kok FJ, Yan H. Effect of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy on Child Mental Development in Rural China. Pediatrics. 2013 Feb 11.