Iron deficiency during the first 1,000 days of life: are we doing enough to protect the developing brain?

Loading...
Thumbnail Image
Date
2021-09-22
Authors
McCarthy, Elaine K.
Murray, Deirdre M.
Kiely, Mairead E.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Abstract
Iron is essential for the functioning of all cells and organs, most critically for the developing brain in the fundamental neuronal processes of myelination, energy and neurotransmitter metabolism. Iron deficiency, especially in the first 1,000 days of life, can result in longlasting, irreversible deficits in cognition, motor function and behaviour. Pregnant women, infants and young children are most vulnerable to iron deficiency, due to their high requirements to support growth and development, coupled with a frequently inadequate dietary supply. An unrecognised problem is that even if iron intake is adequate, common pregnancy-related and lifestyle factors can affect maternal-fetal iron supply in utero, resulting in an increased risk of deficiency for the mother and her fetus. While preterm birth, gestational diabetes mellitus and intrauterine growth restriction are known risk factors, more recent evidence suggests that maternal obesity and delivery by Caesarean section further increase the risk of iron deficiency in the newborn infant, which can persist into early childhood. Despite the considerable threat that early-life iron deficiency poses to long-term neurological development, life chances and a countryâ s overall social and economic progress, strategies to tackle the issue are non-existent, too limited or totally inappropriate. Prevention strategies, focused on improving the health and nutritional status of women of reproductive age are required. Delayed cord clamping should be considered a priority. Better screening strategies to enable the early detection of iron deficiency during pregnancy and early-life should be prioritised, with intervention strategies to protect maternal health and the developing brain.
Description
Keywords
Iron , Micronutrient deficiency , Brain development , Malnutrition , Maternal obesity , Caesarean section
Citation
McCarthy, E. K., Murray, D. M. and Kiely, M. E. (2021) 'Iron deficiency during the first 1,000 days of life: are we doing enough to protect the developing brain?', Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. doi: 10.1017/S0029665121002858
Copyright
© 2021, the Authors. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Nutrition Society. This material is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works.