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Folic Acid and Iron Intake in Pregnancy May Boost Child’s Smarts

A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that the children of mothers who take ample folic acid and iron during pregnancy have kids who test smarter. are better organized and have better fine motor skills than children whose mothers did not take these supplements. The study was conducted in Nepal and a ppears in the January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In releasing their findings, researchers said that ensuring that pregnant women receive supplemental folic acid and iron could have big impact on the academic achievement of children, especially children who live in poort communities where iron deficiency is common. Iron is critical in the healthy development of the central nervous system and according to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world.

Early iron deficiency can interfere with nerve development, biochemistry and metabolism, hampering both intellectual and fine motor development.

The Johns Hopkins team studied 676 school-age children whose mothers had been in a clinical trial in which some got iron and folic acid supplements and other nutrients while they were pregnant. About 80 percent of the children -- aged 7 to 9 -- were enrolled in school.

The researched showed that prenatal iron and folic acid supplementation had a significant impact on the offspring's intellectual level and motor ability and ability at school age, an impact that ran across a range of functions, including intellectual function, executive function and fine motor function.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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