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J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3):683-9.

Preschool-aged children with iron deficiency anemia show altered affect and behavior.

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Center for Human Growth and Development, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0406, USA.


This study compared social looking and response to novelty in preschool-aged children (47-68 mo) with or without iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Iron status of the participants from a low-income community in New Delhi, India, was based on venous hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, and red cell distribution width. Children's social looking toward adults, affect, and wary or hesitant behavior in response to novelty were assessed in a semistructured paradigm during an in-home play observation. Affect and behavior were compared as a function of iron status: IDA (n = 74) vs. nonanemic (n = 164). Compared with nonanemic preschoolers, preschoolers with IDA displayed less social looking toward their mothers, moved close to their mothers more quickly, and were slower to display positive affect and touch novel toys for the first time. These results indicate that IDA in the preschool period has affective and behavioral effects similar to those reported for IDA in infancy.

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