The relationship between iron and autism in pregnancy

A study by researchers from the MIND Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) at the University of California has revealed that mothers of children with autism are less likely to take iron supplements before or during pregnancy compared to mothers of children who they experience a normal development.

In addition, this low iron intake and increased risk of autism have been associated with other factors such as the age of the mother or the existence of metabolic diseases at the time of delivery such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes.

The importance of iron during pregnancy

Many women suffer anemia During pregnancy. These anemias are usually caused because the amount of iron established in the diet of pregnant women is insufficient. For this reason, it is normal to see how expectant mothers take iron supplements from the second trimester of pregnancy. This lack of iron and the occurrence of anemia during pregnancy in turn increase the risk of suffering a premature birth. In addition, symptoms such as fatigue or fatigue become difficulties that the pregnant woman must deal with on a day-to-day basis.


Less iron during pregnancy, more risk of autism

This research has indicated that, in addition, "iron is crucial for the early development of the brain, contributing to the production of neurotransmitters, myelination and immune function", thus establishing for the first time a relationship between iron consumption in pregnancy and the development of autism in children.

In addition, the increase in risk of autism in the child, associated with low iron consumption, is in turn determined by factors such as the age of the mother (more risk from the age of 35) or the presence of metabolic diseases at the time of delivery. Thus, the risk associated with low maternal iron intake is greater in cases in which the mother has a older age Y metabolic problems During pregnancy.


This discovery adds to the advances made in recent years about autism. Thus, we find that in 2011, a few years before this latest research that links the consumption of iron in pregnancy and the risk of developing autism in children, these same researchers found that the risk of a child developing autism was lower if the mother took folic acid supplements, a fact that has given rise to larger-scale research, trying to find out methods to prevent the onset of autism in children.

Patricia Núñez de Arenas

Video: Pregnancy - Why might I need iron in pregnancy?


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