Iron deficiency during pregnancy may directly impact infant breathing health

Need a reason to take your iron supplements? Iron deficiency during pregnancy may directly impact infant and childhood breathing health according to a study recently published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

"Early childhood wheezing and asthma are on the rise," said Elizabeth Triche, PhD, lead author of the study. "We found there is a link between anemic pregnant women and their children's wheezing and asthma."

The study of 597 families who had previously participated in the Asthma in Pregnancy (AIP) Study, found 12 percent of mothers had anemia while pregnant. Among their children, 22 percent had recurrent wheeze in the first year of life and 17 percent had active asthma at age six.

"The message for moms is, take your iron supplements and your baby may breathe easier," said allergist Paige Wickner, MD, co-author of the study and member of ACAAI. "We found that the effects of anemia on childhood respiratory health are even stronger and longer-lasting for women with asthma who have anemia while pregnant."

Asthma is the most common potentially serious medical condition to complicate pregnancy. About 8 percent of women in their childbearing years have asthma. Learn more on asthma and pregnancy and listen to the new pregnancy podcast at AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org

In the U.S., 9 percent of the general pregnant population - and up to 27 percent of low-income minority pregnant women - have anemia. Up to 95 percent of anemia in pregnancy is caused by iron deficiency.

"Nutrition in pregnancy is an area of great interest," said Lisbet Lundsberg, PhD, also a co-author. "The results of this study highlight the need to further evaluate maternal nutritional status and the possible effects on the respiratory health of children."

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