JAMA Logo Iron deficiency seems to be a major issue among children of mothers in rural Nepal. Providing prenatal iron, folic acid and vitamin A supplementation can possibly benefit such individuals. According to a recent study, supplementation of iron/folic acid improves intellectual and motor functioning among newborns. The study findings appear extremely crucial in the health terrain.

The study examined 676 children, aged 7 to 9 years in June 2007-April 2009. These kids were born to women in 4 of 5 groups of a community-based, randomized controlled trial on prenatal micronutrient supplementation conducted between 1999 and 2001 in rural Nepal. Also a placebo group of subsequent preschool iron and zinc supplementation trial was included in the study. In the follow up infants were randomly grouped to receive daily iron/folic acid, iron/folic acid/zinc, or multiple micronutrients along with 11 other micronutrients, all with vitamin A. This group was then compared to a control group of vitamin A alone from early pregnancy through 3 months postpartum.

The control group was not provided with additional micronutrient supplementation other than biannual vitamin A supplementation. Parul Christian, Dr. P.H., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues undertook various tests for examining intellectual like memory and reasoning, executive namely processing speed and motor function including manual dexterity and balance. Maternal prenatal supplementation with iron and folic acid seemingly improved general intellectual ability, certain aspects of executive function, and motor function, such as fine motor control. No statistically significant differences appeared in test scores between the other intervention groups and controls. Scientists also observed that benefits in early school age lasts into adolescence and adulthood also.

The study is published in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.