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Anemia in Early Pregnancy May Harm Child Neurodevelopment

Odds for ASD, ADHD, intellectual disability increased with anemia diagnosed during first 30 weeks

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Anemia diagnosed during the first 30 weeks of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and intellectual disability (ID), according to a study published online Sept. 18 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Aline Marileen Wiegersma, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the correlation between anemia diagnosed in mothers during pregnancy and ASD, ADHD, and ID in offspring using data for 532,232 nonadoptive children born from Jan. 1, 1987, to Dec. 31, 2010, in Sweden and their 299,768 mothers.

The researchers found that children born to mothers diagnosed with anemia within the first 30 weeks of pregnancy had a higher prevalence of ASD, ADHD, and ID compared with those born to mothers with anemia diagnosed later in pregnancy or to mothers not diagnosed with anemia (ASD, 4.9 versus 3.8 and 3.5 percent, respectively; ADHD, 9.3 versus 7.2 and 7.1 percent, respectively; ID, 3.1 versus 1.1 and 1.3 percent, respectively). In models that included socioeconomic, maternal, and pregnancy-related factors, anemia diagnosed during the first 30 weeks of pregnancy but not later was associated with an increased risk for ASD, ADHD, and ID diagnosis in offspring (odds ratios, 1.44, 1.37, and 2.20, respectively). In a sibling-matched comparison, early anemia diagnosis was similarly associated with risk for ASD and ID (odds ratios, 2.25 and 2.59, respectively).

“Our findings appear to emphasize the importance of early screening for iron status and nutritional counseling in antenatal care,” the authors write.

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