According to a new study, iron plays an important role in fetal brain development, and its deficiency may cause hearing complications in prematurely born babies.
The study conducted by scientist from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) analyzed 80 infants over 18 months, testing their cord blood for iron levels and measuring the maturity of the brains auditory nervous system after birth.
They found the brains of infants with low iron levels in their cord blood had abnormal maturation of the auditory system.
“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,” says Dr. Sanjiv Amin, associate professor of Pediatrics at the URMC.
“We are [particularly] concerned [about] its potential implications for language development,” he adds.
The researchers say as many as 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women are iron deficient, a condition which may lead to anemia.
Those who are concerned about their iron intake may turn to nutritional health supplements.