CENTER ON BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE
Essential Nutrients-Mood: Research Article
Beard, J.L., Hendricks, M.K., Perez, E.M., Murray-Kolb, L.E., Berg, A.,
Vernon-Feagans, L., Irlam, J., Isaacs, W., Sive, A., & Tomlinson,
M. (2005). Maternal Iron Deficiency Anemia Affects Postpartum Emotions
Cognition. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal of
Nutrition, 135: 267-272.
ABSTRACT: The aim
of this study was to determine whether iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in
mothers alters their maternal cognitive and behavioral performance, the
mother-infant interaction, and the infant’s development. This article
focuses on the relation between IDA and cognition as well as behavioral
affect in the young mothers. This prospective, randomized, controlled,
intervention trial was conducted in South Africa among 3 groups of
mothers: nonanemic controls and anemic mothers receiving either placebo
(10 µg folate and 25 mg vitamin C) or daily iron (125 mg FeS04,
10 µg folate, 25 mg vitamin C). Mothers of full-term normal birth
weight babies were followed from 10 wk to 9 mo postpartum (n = 81).
Maternal hematologic and iron status, socioeconomic, cognitive, and
emotional status, mother-infant interaction, and the development of the
infants were assessed at 10 wk and 9 mo postpartum. Behavioral and
cognitive variables at baseline did not differ between iron-deficient
anemic mothers and nonanemic mothers. However, iron treatment resulted
in a 25% improvement (P < 0.05) in previously iron-deficient
mothers’ depression and stress scales as well as in the Raven’s
Progressive Matrices test. Anemic mothers administered placebo did not
improve in behavioral measures. Multivariate analysis showed a strong
association between iron status variables (hemoglobin, mean corpuscular
volume, and transferrin saturation) and cognitive variables (Digit
Symbol) as well as behavioral variables (anxiety, stress, depression).
This study demonstrates that there is a strong relation between iron
status and depression, stress, and cognitive functioning in poor
African mothers during the postpartum period. There are likely
ramifications of this poorer "functioning" on mother-child interactions
and infant development, but the constraints around this relation will
have to be defined in larger studies.
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