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September 2014

Iron Intake During Pregnancy Might Be Linked to Autism Risk

New research suggests that iron intake during pregnancy might be linked with autism risk in children.

Autism is a brain disorder that is associated with a wide range of developmental problems, especially in communication and social interaction. Although most children are not diagnosed with autism until they are around preschool age, the first signs of autism generally appear between 12 and 18 months of age. The severity of symptoms varies among patients.

In a new study, researchers reviewed data on children from the Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) Study from 2003 to 2009. Of the children enrolled in the study, 520 were diagnosed with autism and 346 were of normal development. Data on iron intake during pregnancy was reported by the mothers during interviews.

The researchers found that mothers with autistic children were less likely to report taking iron supplements and had lower average daily iron intakes than those with children of normal development. Furthermore, high daily iron intake was linked to a reduced risk of autism when compared to mothers with the lowest iron intake. This link was especially high during breastfeeding.

The authors concluded that iron intake of mothers might be linked to the risk of autism in children. However, this study only suggests a potential association and does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Further research is warranted before any conclusions can be made.

For information about iron, please visit Natural Standard’s Food, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Schmidt RJ, Tancredi DJ, Krakowiak P, et al. Maternal Intake of Supplemental Iron and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Am J Epidemiol. 2014 Sep 22.

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