Cognitive and behavioral consequences of iron deficiency in women of reproductive age

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Iron deficiency remains the greatest single nutrient deficiency worldwide despite widespread efforts to address this problem.1 While it affects individuals of all ages and classes, it disproportionately affects infants, children, and women of reproductive age.2 Global anemia prevalence rates in children range from 25.4% (school-aged) to 47.4% (preschool-aged).2 In women, the global prevalence rates are 30.2% for non-pregnant women and 41.8% for pregnant women.2 While the underlying causes of this anemia are not always immediately apparent, iron deficiency is thought to contribute to at least half of the anemia prevalence worldwide. In 2002, the World Health Organization listed iron deficiency anemia as one of the ten greatest global health risks with consequences of increasing morbidity and mortality in preschool-aged children and pregnant women.3 Although the highest prevalence of iron deficiency is found in non-industrialized countries, it remains a problem even in industrialized areas of the world. In the United States, the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data reveal a prevalence of iron deficiency anemia of 7% for children between 1 and 2 years old and that of 9-16% for adolescent females and women of reproductive age.4 By the end of pregnancy, it is estimated that 33% of women in the United States have iron deficiency anemia.5 This prevalence rate has not changed since 1979 and is largely due to the enormous nutritional stressors on the body during pregnancy and lactation. Pregnant women require 50% more iron in their diets than non-pregnant women of reproductive age. The high demands coupled with inadequate intakes that are often documented in this age group frequently lead to iron depletion by the end of pregnancy and failure to recover stores postpartum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicronutrients and Brain Health
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781420073522
ISBN (Print)9781420073515
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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