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Type: Journal article
Title: Maternal iron levels early in pregnancy are not associated with offspring IQ score at age 8, findings from a Mendelian randomization study
Author: Lewis, S.
Bonilla, C.
Brion, M.
Lawlor, D.
Gunnell, D.
Ben-Shlomo, Y.
Ness, A.
Smith, G.
Citation: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; 68(4):496-502
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 0954-3007
Statement of
S J Lewis, C Bonilla, M-J Brion, D A Lawlor, D Gunnell, Y Ben-Shlomo, A Ness and G D Smith
Abstract: Iron is fundamental to many basic biological functions, and animal studies suggest that iron deficiency early in life can have a lasting impact on the developing brain.We used a population-based cohort of mothers and their children to assess the effect of iron status among pregnant women on the cognitive ability of their offspring. But to avoid the inherent confounding that occurs within observational epidemiology studies we examined the association of maternal genotype at single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the genes HFE (rs1799945) and (rs1800562), TF (rs3811647) and TMPRSS6 (rs1800562), which are related to iron, haemoglobin or transferrin levels, on their child's cognitive test scores at age 8.We found strong associations between HFE and TMPRSS6 genotypes and mother's haemoglobin levels early in pregnancy (P-values are all ≤ 4.1 × 10(-5)) and a genetic score comprised of alleles at these loci was even more strongly associated with haemoglobin levels (P=3.0 × 10(-18)), suggesting that this was a good instrument to use to look at the effect of prenatal iron levels on offspring cognition. However, mother's genotype at the above loci was not associated with offspring IQ at age 8.We therefore concluded that there is no evidence of an effect of exposure to low levels of iron (within the normal range) in pregnancy on offspring cognition at age 8. However, pregnant women in the UK with low haemoglobin levels are prescribed iron supplements and so we were unable to look at the effect of iron deficiency in our study.
Keywords: iron; IQ; intelligence; genetic variants; mendelian randomization; ALSPAC
Description: Published online 8 January 2014
Rights: © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.265
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