Effect of iron supplementation on cognition in Greek preschoolers

E. Metallinos-Katsaras, E. Valassi-Adam, K. G. Dewey, B. Lönnerdal, A. Stamoulakatou, E. Pollitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine effects of iron supplementation on vigilance, attention and conceptual learning in preschool children in Greece. Design: Randomized Double-Blind Placebo Controlled trial of iron. Randomization stratified by iron status and day care center (DCC). Setting: Nine public DCCs in Athens, Greece. Subjects: In all, 49 3-4-y olds (21 anemic, 28 good iron status) with birth weight not less than 2500 g, currently healthy; benign past medical history, IQ ≥ 1 s.d. below the age-adjusted mean, serum Pb ≤ 200 ppb (none exceeded 50 ppb), and height, weight and head circumference for age ≥ 10th percentile. Anemia defined as: (1) pretreatment Hgb <112 g/l and TS < 16% and ferritin < 12 μg/L OR (2) Hgb rise of > 10 g/l (T2-T0) with iron supplementation. Good iron status was defined as baseline levels of Hgb > 120 g/l and either TS > 20% or serum ferritin > 12 μg/l. Intervention: The intervention consisted of a 2-month supplementation of 15 mg iron (and MV) vs placebo (MV alone). Results: After iron treatment, the anemic subjects made significantly fewer errors of commission (14% higher specificity, P < 0.05), exhibited 8% higher accuracy (P < 0.05) and were significantly more efficient (mean difference = 1.09, P < 0.05) than those given placebo. These effects of iron were not found among preschoolers with good iron status. No effects of iron treatment were found on the Oddity Learning task. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that iron supplementation of iron-deficient anemic preschoolers results in an improvement in discrimination, specifically selective attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1542
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Cognition
  • Information processing
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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