MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Staffan Berglund MD PhD
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Iron deficiency has been associated with impaired neurodevelopment and iron supplementation is recommended to those at risk. While it is well known that very low birth weight infants are at risk of iron deficiency, less has been known regarding the large subgroup of children born with only marginally low birth weight (2000-2500g). In the present study, we previously showed that this relatively common group of otherwise healthy children is at risk of iron deficiency during infancy (Berglund Pediatrics 2010;126).
In the study published this week, we now also found that supplementation during the first six months of life had long term positive effects on their behavioral profile, with significant reduction of externalizing behavioral problems.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Our study suggests that the increased risk of behavioral problems seen in children born with low birth weight, might partly correlate to iron deficiency during infancy. This can easily be prevented using a low dose of iron supplements (1-2 mg/kg/day) during the first six months of life. Furthermore, this study added important support to a causal relationship between infant iron deficiency and un-optimal brain development.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Further studies to identify risk groups of iron deficiency is needed. Not only to explore the short term laboratory outcomes, but also to develop optimal interventions for brain development. This may have a significant impact on public health.
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Staffan K Berglund, Anna Chmielewska, Josefine Lindberg, Björn Westrup, Bruno Hägglöf, Mikael Norman, Magnus Domellöf. Effects of iron supplementation of low birth weight infants on cognition and behavior at 7 years—a randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Research, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/PR.2017.235
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