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Increased Micronutrient Intake by Mother Linked to Better Cognitive Function in Child

Doctors recommend that pregnant women take a supplement containing iron and folic acid because they typically do not get enough from food alone. Now a recent study suggests that pregnant women may want to consider taking a supplement containing more micronutrients, as it may affect cognitive ability in children.


Participants in the study included 31,290 pregnant women. Half of them were given iron and folic acid supplements and half were given a supplement containing iron, folic acid, and multiple micronutrients, including iodine, zinc, and vitamin B6. The women took the supplements throughout their pregnancy until three months postpartum.


There were 28,426 life births to the study participants. Fewer low birth weight infants were born to the mothers from the micronutrient group, when compared with those who only took folic acid and iron.


2,879 of the children were assessed for cognitive ability when they were between the ages of 9 and 12. The researchers noted significant improvements in procedural memory, general intellectual ability, and positive shifts overall in cognitive, fine motor, and socio-emotional ability in the micronutrient group.


Children of anemic mothers who took the micronutrients scored 0.18 SD higher in general intellectual ability than the children in the iron and folic acid only group. This is equivalent to cognitive development gained from one year of schooling. They also scored higher in procedural memory, equivalent to cognitive development gained from half a year of schooling.


Researchers from the University of Airlangga in Indonesia conducted the study. It was published in the February 2017 issue of The Lancet Global Health.


Previous studies have shown that multivitamins containing micronutrients may aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and boost general physical health. Other studies have also shown that the cells of people who routinely take multivitamins have a younger biological age.

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