Iron Supplements Not Linked to Cognitive Development in Children, Finds Study


To accelerate the physical and mental development of children, there are several food supplements available in the market. Many parents, these days, consider these supplements for their children. Attractive advertisements and claims like instant benefits can easily convince anyone to buy them.

As reported by Dainik Jagran, a study, conducted in rural areas of Bangladesh, revealed that iron supplement is actually helpful in protecting against anaemia in young children, but it has no impact on young children’s growth, cognitive function, behaviour, or development. For the unversed, in line with global guidelines, iron supplements are given to children around the globe to prevent anaemia.

The research was led by Australia’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, WEHI, Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Pasricha, in collaboration with Dr Jena Hamadani from the International Center for Diarrheal Diseases Research Bangladesh and Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs from the Doherty Institute.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on September 9 and has evaluated the impact of iron supplements on young children’s development.

To conduct the research, the researchers provided iron drops and home fortification packets to about 3,300 8-month-old babies. Researchers analyzed the children’s mental (cognitive) and neural development as well as their physical growth (height and weight). They found that iron supplementation had no effect on these activities. Speaking about the research, associate professor Pasricha stated that the study could result in major changes in global nutrition policy.

The study further also revealed adverse side effects in some children, who were given iron supplements preventatively.

Dr Jena stated that in some children, iron supplements did more harm than good. Jena said, “In some children, who did not have anaemia and took iron supplements, they may actually have had increased visits to hospitals due to persistent episodes of diarrhoea, and it possibly indicated that iron supplements did more harm than good.”

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