Prenatal Vitamin Supplements Linked to Kids' Intelligence, Motor Skills

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals


Can folic acid and iron supplements create a race of supermen? Well, they do help with intelligence and fine motor skills. Credit: Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images

It all started when Dr. Doom was still in the womb.

His mother took iron and folic acid supplements. After just a few months, baby Doom was no longer content to sit in his crib and construct death rays.

He began devising schemes to rid himself of the naive fools who stood in his way and take over the world.

Curse you, folic acid and and iron supplements! You bred an intellectually superior race of human beings, but at what cost? At what cost?!

Calm yourselves, citizens. It may not come to that. However, data coming out of Nepal could make some caped crusaders look at researchers and exclaim, "You mad fools!"

Reuters news service reports some women in rural Nepal took iron and folic acid supplements while they were pregnant, and researchers found the children of these mothers had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

Well, that may be exaggerating just a smidge. But they were smarter and more organized with better fine motor skills.

This bodes all sorts of things. Mostly, researchers tell Reuters, it bodes better prenatal care for women in poor communities and more promising futures for their children.

"Iron is essential for the development of the central nervous system," Parul Christian, one of the leaders of the Nepal study, tells Reuters. Christian, an expert in international health at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, shares her study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers looked at 676 school-age children whose mothers took iron and folic acid supplements and other nutrients while they were pregnant. About 80 percent of the children -- ages 7 to 9 -- were enrolled in school.

Don't rush out and get yourself a maternity T-shirt that says "My kid is (already) on the honor roll" just yet. Christian's study didn't exactly show we can raise an army of supermen -- or even nerds who actually have the motor skills to play sports.

"What we showed is prenatal iron and folic acid supplementation had a significant impact on the offspring's intellectual level and motor ability and ability during school age, which was a very exciting finding," Christian tells Reuters.

She adds that many children in poor communities would benefit from better prenatal programs that include the low-cost nutritional supplements.

"These results speak to a large swath of people residing in that part of the world. Iron and folic acid deficiency are very common," she says.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world -- affecting 2 billion people.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.