Iron deficiency and brain development

Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2006 Sep;13(3):158-65. doi: 10.1016/j.spen.2006.08.004.

Abstract

Iron deficiency (ID) is common in pregnant women and infants worldwide. Rodent models show that ID during gestation/lactation alters neurometabolism, neurotransmitters, myelination, and gene/protein profiles before and after iron repletion at weaning. Human infants with iron deficiency anemia test lower in cognitive, motor, social-emotional, and neurophysiologic development than comparison group infants. Iron therapy does not consistently improve developmental outcome, with long-term differences observed. Poorer outcome has also been shown in human and monkey infants with fetal/neonatal ID. Recent randomized trials of infant iron supplementation show benefits, indicating that adverse effects can be prevented and/or reversed with iron earlier in development or before ID becomes severe or chronic. This body of research emphasizes the importance of protecting the developing brain from ID.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron / deficiency*
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats

Substances

  • Iron