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Nutr Rev. 2006 May;64(5 Pt 2):S34-43; discussion S72-91.

Long-lasting neural and behavioral effects of iron deficiency in infancy.

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Center for Human Growth and Development and the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


Infants are at high risk for iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia. This review summarizes evidence of long-term effects of iron deficiency in infancy. Follow-up studies from preschool age to adolescence report poorer cognitive, motor, and social-emotional function, as well as persisting neurophysiologic differences. Research in animal models points to mechanisms for such long-lasting effects. Potential mechanisms relate to effects of iron deficiency during brain development on neurometabolism, myelination, and neurotransmitter function.

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