More than 50% of women develop moderate anemia during pregnancy with about 5-10% of women developing severe anemia in Sub-Saharan Africa. Severe anemia increases the risk of mortality and morbidity in mothers, but to our knowledge, there is no existing study on anemia during pregnancy and cognitive outcome in childhood despite the very high prevalence of anemia in Sub-Saharan Africa. The main goals of this planning grant will be to expand and strengthen a partnership between a multi-disciplinary and complementary research group from epidemiology, pediatrics, parasitology, nutrition, psychiatry and developmental psychology, based in Benin, the United States and France, and to prepare, in the next 2 years, for a research study on the relationship between anemia in pregnancy and cognitive function in childhood to be submitted as an NIH R01. This project will build new capacity in Benin in the study of brain disorders and perinatal/pediatric epidemiology. Training in the field of cognitive assessments in childhood, and training in the design, implementation and analysis of epidemiological studies are central in our capacity building plan. Two young Beninese medical doctors will be specifically trained through this R21 to become independent researchers. Training in cognitive assessments will benefit to other faculty and staff as well. This study will take advantage of a group of infants born following a randomized controlled trial of intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in women during pregnancy funded by the European Union. Pilot study activities will translate and validate the measures of cognitive assessments in childhood in a Francophone country, and provide results on the relationships between anemia during pregnancy and cognitive function in infants of 12 months of age. The preliminary studies will prepare for the more rigorous design and more effective implementation of a follow-up of the children at age 3-4 years and 6 years.
This project is willing to develop a strong partnership between researchers from Benin, the US and France and build new research capacity in the field of brain disorders and perinatal/pediatric epidemiology. This study promises to generate a markedly enhanced understanding of the relationship between anemia in pregnancy and cognitive function in childhood. This information will provide a foundation for developing guidelines on prevention and treatment for anemia in pregnancy.
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