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J Nutr. 2003 May;133(5 Suppl 1):1468S-72S. doi: 10.1093/jn/133.5.1468S.

Iron deficiency alters brain development and functioning.

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Graduate Program in Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Iron deficiency anemia in early life is related to altered behavioral and neural development. Studies in human infants suggest that this is an irreversible effect that may be related to changes in chemistry of neurotransmitters, organization and morphology of neuronal networks, and neurobiology of myelination. The acquisition of iron by the brain is an age-related and brain-region-dependent process with tightly controlled rates of movement of iron across the blood-brain barrier. Dopamine receptors and transporters are altered as are behaviors related to this neurotransmitter. The growing body of evidence suggests that brain iron deficiency in early life has multiple consequences in neurochemistry and neurobiology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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