News / Asia

    Pregnant Women Who Take Iron, Folic Acid Have Smarter Babies

    Babies of mothers who took supplements had improved intellectual functioning as well as better fine motor skills.
    Babies of mothers who took supplements had improved intellectual functioning as well as better fine motor skills.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Rose Hoban

    New research reinforces the importance of prenatal iron supplementation for good birth outcomes and continued good health for growing children.

    Studies over the past 20 years have pointed to the importance of micronutrients - substances found in small amounts in foods that make a big difference. One of the most important micronutrients for pregnant women is iron. Iron is vital to the development of a fetus' central nervous system, says Parul Christian, a nutritionist working at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

    "Early iron deficiency can change the neuro-anatomy of the brain, and impact the neuro-chemistry of the central nervous system and brain metabolism, that are important for cognitive development, for sensory-motor development."

    But providing vitamin and micronutrient supplements to all pregnant women can be a significant financial burden in low income countries. Some experts argue that it's enough to give infants iron supplements after they're born. That was part of the reason Christian and her colleagues decided to study poor women in Nepal a decade ago. Some of the women got supplements without iron and folic acid, another important micronutrient, while others got supplements with both micronutrients.

    "That study was completed in 2001 and showed iron and folic acid supplementation could have an impact on infant and later childhood survival," Christian says.

    That earlier study strengthened the case for supplements, but Christian's new research shows an even longer term impact on children who received iron in utero. She and her colleagues returned to Nepal, and were able to test the neurological development on children who were now on the brink of adolescence.

    "The offspring of the mothers who had received iron and folic acid during pregnancy through three months postpartum had improved intellectual functioning including improved working memory and inhibitory control, which are domains capturing executive function, and they had better fine motor functioning ability as well."

    Christian adds there was a qualitative difference between these older children and those whose mothers had received the supplements without iron.

    She says these outcomes should remove any doubts lingering in the minds of health planners about whether or not to spend extra dollars to make sure that each pregnant woman receives iron supplementation during pregnancy. And she says in places such as the Asian subcontinent - where iron deficiency is endemic - supplementing with iron delivers an even larger bang for the public health buck.

    Christian's research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora