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The impacts of maternal iron deficiency and being overweight during pregnancy on neurodevelopment of the offspring

  • Staffan K. Berglund (a1) (a2), Francisco J. Torres-Espínola (a1), Luz García-Valdés (a1), Mª Teresa Segura (a1), Cristina Martínez-Zaldívar (a1), Carmen Padilla (a3), Ricardo Rueda (a4), Miguel Pérez García (a5), Harry J. McArdle (a6) and Cristina Campoy (a1) (a7) (a8)...

Both maternal Fe deficiency (ID) and being overweight or obese (Ow/Ob, BMI≥25 kg/m2) may negatively affect offspring brain development. However, the two risk factors correlate and their independent effects on infant neurodevelopment are unclear. PREOBE is a prospective observational study that included 331 pregnant Spanish women, of whom 166 had pre-gestational Ow/Ob. Fe status was analysed at 34 weeks and at delivery, and babies were assessed using Bayley III scales of neurodevelopment at 18 months. In confounder-adjusted analyses, maternal ID at 34 weeks was associated with lower composite motor scores at 18 months (mean 113·3 (sd 9·9) v. 117·1 (sd 9·2), P=0·039). Further, the offspring of mothers with ID at delivery had lower cognitive scores (114·0 (sd 9·7) v. 121·5 (sd 10·9), P=0·039) and lower receptive, expressive and composite (99·5 (sd 8·6) v. 107·6 (sd 8·3), P=0·004) language scores. The negative associations between maternal ID at delivery and Bayley scores remained even when adjusting for maternal Ow/Ob and gestational diabetes. Similarly, maternal Ow/Ob correlated with lower gross motor scores in the offspring (12·3 (sd 2·0) v. 13·0 (sd 2·1), P=0·037), a correlation that remained when adjusting for maternal ID. In conclusion, maternal ID and pre-gestational Ow/Ob are both negatively associated with Bayley scores at 18 months, but independently and on different subscales. These results should be taken into account when considering Fe supplementation for pregnant women.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Professor C. Campoy, email
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
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