Food and Behaviour Research

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

Lozoff B, Beard J, Connor J, Barbara F, Georgieff M, Schallert T. (2006) Nutr Rev.  64(5 Pt 2): S34-43; discussion S72-91. 

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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.