HealthDay News — Iron supplementation in infancy, regardless of iron supplementation in pregnancy, improves gross motor development at age 9 months, according to research published online March 2 in Pediatrics.

Rosa M. Angulo-Barroso, PhD, of California State University in Northridge, and colleagues analyzed data for 1,196 infants who were randomly assigned to supplemental iron or placebo from age 6 weeks to 9 months. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) was linked to an RCT of iron supplementation in pregnancy. The effects of iron supplementation in pregnancy and/or infancy on motor development at age 9 months were assessed.

The researchers found that iron supplementation in infancy, but not in pregnancy, was associated with improvements in gross motor scores (overall, P < 0.001; reflexes, P = 0.03; stationary, P < 0.001; and locomotion, P < 0.001). Compared with no supplementation or supplementation during pregnancy alone, iron supplementation in infancy improved motor scores by 0.3 standard deviations. No difference was observed in the effects of iron supplementation during infancy alone versus iron supplementation during both pregnancy and infancy.

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“The RCT design supports the causal inference that iron supplementation in infancy, with or without iron supplementation in pregnancy, improved gross motor test scores at 9 months,” the authors write.

Vifor Pharma provided funding for the pregnancy study. One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Angulo-Barroso RM, Li M, Santos DCC, et al. Iron supplementation in pregnancy or infancy and motor development: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2016; doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3547