Iron deficiency and child and maternal health
ABSTRACT Iron deficiency is most commonly found in women of reproductive age and infants worldwide, but the influence of maternal iron deficiency on infant development is underexplored.
The objective was to examine the relation between maternal iron status and mother-child interactions in a randomized, double-blind, intervention trial conducted in South Africa.
Women were recruited into the study from a health clinic at 6-8 wk postpartum and were classified as either iron-deficient anemic (IDA) or iron-sufficient after blood analysis. IDA mothers received iron supplements of 125 mg FeSO(4) (IDA-Fe; n = 34) or placebo (IDA-PL; n = 30) daily from 10 wk to 9 mo postpartum. The control group (n = 31) consisted of iron-sufficient mothers. Free-play mother-child interaction sessions were videotaped in the clinic at 10 wk (n = 80) and 9 mo (n = 66) postpartum and coded per the Emotional Availability Scales (4 maternal scales: sensitivity, structuring, nonintrusiveness, and nonhostility; 2 infant scales: responsiveness and involvement).
At 10 wk, scores for maternal sensitivity and child responsiveness were significantly greater in the control group than in the IDA groups (P = 0.028 and 0.009, respectively). At 9 mo, the control and IDA-Fe groups no longer differed. These 2 groups scored significantly better on the maternal sensitivity, structuring, and nonhostility scales and on the child responsiveness scale than did the IDA-PL group (P = 0.007-0.032), whose iron status remained low.
These data indicate that maternal iron deficiency negatively affects mother-child interactions and that iron supplementation protects against these negative effects.
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