May 3, 2012

Stress during Pregnancy Affects Baby’s Iron Status

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — We all know what affects the mother affects the infant, but recent research takes it a step further. Newborns whose mother is under stress during the first trimester of pregnancy may be at risk for iron deficiency, possibly leading to mental and physical delays down the road.

Iron is important in the development of the brain. Risk factors for low iron status in infants are maternal iron deficiency, smoking during pregnancy, maternal diabetes, low birth weight, preterm birth, or multiple pregnancies.

The study recruited pregnant women who were about to give birth at the Barzilai Medical Center. The first group lived in an area where there are more than 600 rocket attacks ("Oferet Yetzuka" operation) during their first trimester. The controlled group lived in the same area, but became pregnant three to four months after the rockets attacked. Eligible women who were healthy interviewed one or two days after delivery about their background and health during pregnancy. Cord blood was also collected from newborns, and serum ferritin, iron, were measured.

Sixty-three babies whose mothers were in the stress group had significantly lower cord-blood ferritin concentrations than the 77 infants in the control group.

"Our findings indicate that infants whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy are a previously unrecognized risk group for iron deficiency. Pregnant women should be aware that their health, nutrition, stress level and state of mind will affect their baby's health and well-being," Dr. Rinat Armony-Sivan, Ph.D., director of the psychology research laboratory at Ashkelon Academic College, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS)