Early Childhood Growth and Development

Young children are also at increased risk of iron deficiency and anemia, which have been associated with adverse consequences, such as impaired learning and cognitive development [31, 32]. Several recent nationally representative surveys have shown that more than 50% of infants and preschool children are anemic, and this has raised considerable interest in identifying strategies that prevent this problem as soon as possible [4]. Recent studies have demonstrated that iron stores in infants at birth depend on maternal iron status and that clinical practices, such as delayed clamping of the umbilical cord, could help boost iron stores safely [33]. Healthy term babies typically have adequate iron stores during the first 6 months of life, but this may not be the case for infants who are born to mothers who are iron deficient during pregnancy, as well as premature and low-birth-weight babies who typically have low or no iron stores [1].

Recently, data have emerged to support the notion that women continue to be at risk of developing anemia and/or iron deficiency during the postpartum period, which may be associated with adverse consequences for both mothers and their infants. Women who are iron deficient may be at increased risk of depression and impaired cognitive function and this, in turn, would affect their ability to take care of their child and may indirectly influence child growth and development [34, 35]. Beard et al. [35] demonstrated that iron supplementation of women during the postpartum period improved cognitive functioning.

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