Iron deficiency in womb may delay brain maturation in preemies

May 04, 2009

Iron plays a large role in brain development in the womb, and new University of Rochester Medical Center research shows an iron deficiency may delay the development of auditory nervous system in preemies. This delay could affect babies ability to process sound which is critical for later language development in early childhood.

The study evaluated 80 infants over 18 months, testing their cord blood for iron levels and using a non-invasive tool -- auditory brainstem-evoked response (ABR) -- to measure the maturity of the brain's auditory nervous system soon after birth. The study found that the brains of infants with low iron levels in their cord blood had abnormal maturation of auditory system compared to infants with normal cord iron levels.

"Sound isn't transmitted as well through the immature auditory pathway in the brains of who are deficient in iron as compared to premature babies who have enough iron," said Sanjiv Amin, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center and author of the abstract presented today at the Pediatric Academic Society meeting in Baltimore. "We suspect that if the auditory neural system is affected during developmental phase, then other parts of the brain could also be affected in the presence of iron deficiency."

As many as 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women with lower socio-economic status are iron deficient. Iron deficiency in pregnant woman can cause anemia, a condition in which there are not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Anemia can cause a range of problems in from exhaustion to preterm labor and low birth weight. But physicians didn't know that an iron deficiency in a fetus may also delay auditory neural maturation. which could lead to language problems.

"We are concerned by these findings because of its potential implications for ," Amin said. "More study is needed to fully understand what this delay in maturation means. This finding at least underscores an already understood need to monitor in pregnant women."

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center (news : web)

Explore further: Stem cells aid muscle repair and strengthening after resistance exercise

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iron supplements might harm infants who have enough

May 05, 2008

A new study suggests that extra iron for infants who don't need it might delay development -- results that fuel the debate over optimal iron supplement levels and could have huge implications for the baby formula and food ...

Iron and copper relationship is studied

Jul 24, 2007

U.S. scientists studying the relationship of iron and copper in the body have found when iron absorption by cells decreases, copper absorption increases.

A genetic cause for iron deficiency

Apr 13, 2008

The discovery of a gene for a rare form of inherited iron deficiency may provide clues to iron deficiency in the general population – particularly iron deficiency that doesn’t respond to iron supplements - and suggests ...

Scientists show why cells starved of iron burn more glucose

Jun 09, 2008

Duke University Medical Center scientists have found a mechanism that allows cells starved of iron to shut down energy-making processes that depend on iron and use a less efficient pathway involving glucose. This metabolic ...

Recommended for you

Autophagy protects insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas

Jul 19, 2014

Diabetes affects almost 400 million people worldwide. One of the hallmarks of this disease is a loss of pancreatic β cells, which secrete insulin. In many patients the reduction of β cells is associated an accumulation ...

User comments : 0