Treating iron deficiency in preschoolers can significantly improve their attention skills and performance, according to a recent study.
Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras and colleagues studied 49 children between the ages of three and four. Of the children, 21 were anemic and 28 had normal iron levels. The researchers gave the children either 15 mg of iron or a placebo for two months.
After treatment, the researchers say, the children who initially were iron-deficient made fewer errors of commission on cognitive tasks, exhibited higher accuracy, and were significantly more efficient than iron- deficient children given the placebo. No changes were seen in the preschoolers who initially had normal iron stores.
The researchers say their findings indicate that "iron supplementation of iron-deficient anemic preschoolers results in an improvement in discrimination, specifically selective attention."
Previous research has linked iron deficiency to impaired cognitive skills in adolescent girls (see related article, Crime Times, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 7), hyperactivity and conduct disorder (see related article, Crime Times, 1995, Vol. 1, No. 4, Page 7), and aggression (see related article, Crime Times, 1998, Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 1).
"Effect of iron supplementation on cognition in Greek preschoolers," E. Metallinos-Katsaras, E. Valassi-Adam, K. G. Dewey, B. Lonnerdal, A. Stamoulakatou, and E. Pollitt, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 30, 2004 (epub). Address: Elizabeth Metallinos-Katsaras, Simmons College, 300 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02215.