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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Cognitive Effects of Iron Deficiency in Non-Anemic Children

  • Author(s): Grein, Jonathan
  • et al.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and millions of children with non-anemic iron deficiency are not detected by standard hematocrit screening. This paper looks at the possible cognitive effects of iron deficiency in non-anemic children. Overall, it seems likely that iron deficiency without anemia can impair intellectual abilities and school performance. Conflicting evidence surrounds whether these effects are permanent or treatable. Evidence does not strongly support impaired motor functions in these children. These results are supported by animal studies and iron deficiency anemia research. However, because of the small number of studies on non-anemic children, and the large number of confounding variables in human studies on iron deficiency, these conclusions must be taken with some skepticism until more research can be accumulated.

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