News article

Iron deficiency predicts lower IQ scores in children adopted from institutional settings

Posted:  Monday, March 10, 2014

Iron deficiency predicts lower IQ scores and poor higher-order thinking skills in children adopted from institutional settings like orphanages, according to a new longitudinal study. The study analysed data on 55 children adopted from international institutions, with a focus on nutritional status. Conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, the research appears in the journal Child Development.

Children with more severe iron deficiency when they were adopted and who had spent more time in an institution before they were adopted were more likely to have lower IQ and poorer higher-order thinking skills (such as the ability to plan and solve problems), the study found. Iron deficiency affected higher-order thinking skills independent of its effect on general cognitive ability, as measured by the IQ test. Even less severe levels of iron deficiency were associated with poorer cognitive functioning (examples of cognitive functioning include planning behaviour, storing information in memory and then acting on that information, and thinking flexibly.

Jena Doom, doctoral candidate (ICD), working with Megan Gunnar, Regents Professor and Director, both at the Institute of Child Development, and colleagues, have found that iron deficiency predicts lower IQ scores and poor higher thinking skills in children who have been adopted from institutional settings like orphanages. Doom and colleagues conducted the longitudinal study using data from 55 children who had been adopted from international institutions.

Particularly, they note, kids can get iron supplements or cognitive mediations that address each kid's particular needs. Basic intercessions for universally received kids incorporate those that address tangible reconciliation issue and consideration shortfall hyperactivity issue. Folks ought to be educated about appropriation sustenance so they settle on sound healthful decisions to upgrade their kids' advancement. Organizations that specialize in nutrition in orphanages will benefit from an understanding of which nutrients are vital for cognitive functioning and what types of nutrient deficiencies are commonly found in children adopted internationally who had previously lived in institutional settings.

The study analysed IQ, higher-request deduction abilities, and iron inadequacy in kids received into U.S. families from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Previous work has looked at the effect of early deprivation on cognitive development among children living in institutions such as orphanages or hospitals. In any case few studies have inspected whether these kids experience the ill effects of wholesome insufficiencies that would help clarify disturbances in cognitive working.

Researchers examined medical records of 55 children (then ages 17 to 36 months) soon after they were adopted and classified them as having normal iron levels, less severe iron deficiency, or severe iron deficiency, characterized as anaemia. About a year later, when the children were 2 to 4 years old, they were given an IQ test and tests that measure higher-order thinking skills. These skills, also called executive function, include the ability to delay a reward, store and manage information to accomplish a task, and think flexibly about a task.