December 21, 2010
Prenatal Supplements For Moms In Nepal Associated With Improved Functional Outcomes Of Children
In an area where iron deficiency is prevalent, children of mothers in rural Nepal who received prenatal iron, folic acid and vitamin A supplementation performed better on measures of intellectual and motor functioning compared to offspring of mothers who received vitamin A alone, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.
"Micronutrient inadequacy is a critical concern among pregnant women and young children throughout the world. Gestation and the early postnatal period are considered sensitive periods for brain development, and nutritional deprivation during this period may lead to functional impairments," according to background information in the article. Early iron deficiency has been shown to alter neuroanatomy and metabolism, which may lead to changes in processes that support cognitive development. "Few studies have examined whether iron and zinc supplementation during gestation, a critical period of central nervous system development, affects children's later functioning," the authors write.
The researchers found that maternal prenatal supplementation with iron and folic acid was positively associated with general intellectual ability, some aspects of executive function, and motor function, including fine motor control, in offspring in a rural area where iron deficiency is prevalent. In general, the differences in test scores between the other intervention groups and controls were not statistically significant.
"Antenatal iron/folic acid use per international guidelines should be expanded in many low- and middle-income settings where program coverage continues to be poor. Further follow-up studies are required to examine whether the observed benefits in early school age persist into adolescence and adulthood," the researchers conclude.
On the Net: