Characterizing the Impact of Antenatal Maternal Anaemia on the Child Brain using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in Two South African Birth Cohorts


  • Miss Jessica Ringshaw

    University of Cape Town, South Africa

Project summary

Antenatal maternal anaemia, indicated by low haemoglobin during pregnancy, is an important health priority in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Although anaemia has consistently been associated with adverse birth outcomes and poor child development, little is known about its effect on the child brain due to limited research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). My research aims to investigate the impact of antenatal maternal anaemia on brain structure and neurodevelopment in children from two South African birth cohorts. Both a traditional, high-field and a newly-introduced low-field MRI system will be used to answer this clinically relevant question, and to explore the role of iron-deficiency. This may inform the management of iron-deficiency, and the timing of interventions targeting maternal anaemia before and during pregnancy for improved child outcomes. Assessing the low-field system?s ability to detect key findings potentially informs the feasibility of cost-effective neuroimaging research on anaemia and other LMIC health priorities.