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Prenatal Micronutrients Tied to Increased Functioning

When moms receive folic acid, iron, offspring have higher intellectual, motor functioning

TUESDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In areas where the community diet may be lacking in iron, prenatal supplementation with iron and folic acid is associated with increased intellectual and motor functioning in offspring, according to research published in the Dec. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Parul Christian, Dr.P.H., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues followed up on 676 children, aged 7 to 9, born in rural Nepal to women randomized to receive vitamin A with either iron/folic acid, iron/folic acid/zinc, or multiple micronutrients, including the latter or vitamin A alone. The purpose of the study was to examine the intellectual and motor functioning of children born to the mothers who'd received micronutrient supplementation while pregnant.

The researchers found a significant difference in outcomes between the iron/folic acid group and the vitamin A alone group but not for other supplement groups. In the former group, the mean score on the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test was 51.7, compared with 48.2 in the control group. The iron/folic acid group also had higher executive functioning scores.

"Aspects of intellectual functioning, including working memory, inhibitory control, and fine motor functioning, among offspring were positively associated with prenatal iron/folic acid supplementation in an area where iron deficiency is prevalent," the authors write.

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