Food and Behaviour Research

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Adolescent internalizing, externalizing, and social problems following iron deficiency at 12–18 months: The role of maternal responsiveness

Doom J, Gahagan S, East P, Encina P, Delva J, Lozoff B (2020) Child Development May;91(3):e545-e562 doi: 10.1111/cdev.13266 

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This study tested whether maternal responsiveness moderated or mediated pathways from iron deficiency (ID) at 12-18 months to adolescent behavior problems.

Participants were part of a large Chilean cohort (N = 933). Iron status was assessed at 12 and 18 months. Maternal responsiveness was assessed at 9 months and 5 years. Parents reported their child's symptomology at 5 years, 10 years, and adolescence (11-17 years; M = 14.4).

Structural equation modeling identified a previously unrecognized pathway by which child externalizing problems and negative maternal responsiveness at 5 years mediated associations between ID at 12-18 months and adolescent internalizing, externalizing, and social problems.

Positive maternal responsiveness in infancy did not buffer those with ID anemia from developing 5-year internalizing problems.


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