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J Am Diet Assoc. 2007 Jan;107(1):128-33.

Zinc, iron, and lead: relations to head start children's cognitive scores and teachers' ratings of behavior.

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Human Development and Family Science Department, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-6141, USA.


The objective of this study was to conduct a preliminary investigation of lead, zinc, and iron levels in relation to child cognition and behavior in a small sample of Head Start children. The design was cross-sectional and correlational. Participants were 42 3- to 5-year-old children attending rural Head Start centers. Nonfasting blood samples of whole blood lead, plasma zinc, and ferritin were collected. Teachers rated children's behavior on the California Preschool Social Competency Scale, Howes' Sociability subscale, and the Preschool Behavior Questionnaire. Children were tested individually with the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that zinc and ferritin jointly explained 25% of the variance in McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities verbal scores. Lead levels explained 25% of the variance in teacher ratings of girls' sociability and 20% of the variance in teacher ratings of girls' classroom competence. Zinc levels explained 39% of the variance in teacher ratings of boys' anxiety. Univariate analysis of variance revealed that the four children low in zinc and iron had significantly higher blood lead (median=0.23 micromol/L [4.73 microg/dL]) than the 31 children sufficient in zinc or iron (median=0.07 micromol/L [1.54 microg/dL]) or the 7 children sufficient in both (median=0.12 micromol/L [2.52 microg/dL]), suggesting an interaction among the three minerals. Within this small low-income sample, the results imply both separate and interacting effects of iron, zinc, and lead. They underscore the importance of studying these three minerals in larger samples of low-income preschool children to make more definitive conclusions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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