Maternal prenatal iron status and tissue organization in the neonatal brain

Catherine Monk, Michael K. Georgieff, Dongrong Xu, Xuejun Hao, Ravi Bansal, Hanna Gustafsson, Julie Spicer, Bradley S. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background:Children prenatally exposed to inadequate iron have poorer motor and neurocognitive development. No prior study to our knowledge has assessed the influence of maternal prenatal iron intake on newborn brain tissue organization in full-term infants.Methods:Third trimester daily iron intake was obtained using the Automated Self-Administered 24-h Dietary Recall with n = 40 healthy pregnant adolescents (aged 14-19 y). Cord blood ferritin was collected in a subsample (n = 16). Newborn (mean = 39 gestational weeks at birth; range 37-41) magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired on a 3.0 Tesla MR Scanner. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) slices were acquired to measure the directional diffusion of water indexed by fractional anisotropy (FA).Results:Reported iron intake was inversely associated with newborn FA values (P ≤ 0.0001) predominantly in cortical gray matter. FA findings were similar using cord blood ferritin values.Conclusion:Higher maternal prenatal iron intake accentuates, and lower intake attenuates, the normal age-related decline in FA values in gray matter, perhaps representing increasing dendritic arborization and synapse formation with higher iron intake. These DTI results suggest that typical variation in maternal iron outside the scope of standard clinical surveillance exerts subtle effects on infant brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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