Iron plays a key role in brain development, and its deficiency has been linked to hearing complications in prematurely born babies, a new study has found.
Scientist from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) analyzed 80 infants over a period of18 months, testing their cord blood for iron levels and measuring the maturity of the brain’s auditory nervous system after birth.
They found the brains of infants with low iron levels in their cord blood had abnormal maturation of the auditory system.
"Sound isn’t transmitted as well through the immature auditory pathway in the brains of premature babies who are deficient in iron as compared to premature babies who have enough iron," says Dr. Sanjiv Amin, associate professor of Pediatrics at the URMC.
He adds researchers suspect that if the deficiency has a serious impact on the auditory neural system during developmental phase, other parts of the brain are also likely to be affected.
"We are [particularly] concerned [about] its potential implications for language development," Amin specifies.
Background information of the study suggests as many as 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women with lower socio-economic status may be iron deficient, a condition which may lead to anemia.