Mothers' Stress Could Cause Iron Deficiency in
MONDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Stress experienced by a
mother during the first trimester of pregnancy can lead to iron
deficiency in her newborn, putting the infant at risk for physical
and mental development delays, a new study says.
Iron is important in organ-system development, especially for
the brain. Risk factors for iron deficiency in newborns include
iron deficiency and diabetes in their mothers, as well as smoking
during pregnancy. Preterm birth, low birth weight and multiple
pregnancy are also well-known risk factors for low iron.
This is the first study to suggest that stress experienced by
mothers early in pregnancy is another risk factor for iron
deficiency in newborns, according to the researchers.
For the study, researchers looked at Israeli women who lived in
an area where more than 600 rocket attacks took place during their
first trimester of pregnancy. This stress group was compared to a
control group of women who lived in the same area but became
pregnant three to four months after the rocket attacks ceased.
Tests on umbilical cord blood collected from the newborns showed
that the 63 babies born to women in the stress group had
significantly lower iron levels than the 77 babies born to women in
the control group.
"Our findings indicate that infants whose mothers were stressed during pregnancy are a previously unrecognized risk group for iron deficiency," study leader Rinat Armony-Sivan, of Ashkelon Academic College, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release. "Pregnant women should be aware that their health, nutrition, stress level and state of mind will affect their baby's health and well-being."
Doctors might consider doing additional blood work before the
well-child visit at 12 months of age, especially in high-risk
populations, in order to detect iron deficiency early and treat it
before it becomes chronic and severe, Armony-Sivan suggested.
The study was slated for Sunday presentation at the Pediatric
Academic Societies annual meeting in Boston. Data and conclusions
presented at meetings should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Although the study found an association between maternal stress
and infant iron deficiency, it did not prove a cause-and-effect
The Nemours Foundation has more about
children and iron.
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