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J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2349-54.

Once-weekly and 5-days a week iron supplementation differentially affect cognitive function but not school performance in Thai children.

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Epidemiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Prince of Songkla University, Songkla 90110, Thailand.


Many studies have reported comparable hemoglobin response in subjects given intermittent and daily iron supplements. However, the effect of intermittent iron supplementation on impaired cognitive function, one of the serious consequences of iron deficiency among children, has not been studied. We investigated the effects of 1 d/wk (weekly) and 5 d/wk (daily) iron supplementation on changes in results of intelligence quotient (IQ), Thai language, and mathematics tests among Thai primary schoolchildren. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted. Primary schoolchildren (n = 397) were randomly assigned to receive iron supplements daily or weekly or placebo. Ferrous sulfate (300 mg) or placebo tablets were given under direct observation by the researcher for 16 wk. Changes in IQ, and Thai language and mathematics scores were then compared. The increases in hemoglobin concentration were comparable in the weekly and daily iron supplementation groups but serum ferritin increased more in the children supplemented daily. Children receiving daily iron supplements, however, had a significantly lower increase in IQ (3 +/- 12 points) than those receiving the supplement weekly (6 +/- 12 points) or placebo (6 +/- 12 points), whereas the last-mentioned two groups did not differ. Z-scores of Thai language and mathematics test results did not differ among the groups. We conclude that weekly iron supplementation is the regimen of choice in this study community.

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