Iron deficiency and brain development.
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.
Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2006 Sep;13(3):158-65. doi: 10.1016/j.spen.2006.08.004. PMID: 17101454.