Early Iron Deficiency and Later Cognitive Function
Iron deficiency in infancy negatively impacts a variety of neurodevelopmental processes at the time of nutrient insufficiency, with persistent central nervous system alterations and deficits in behavioral functioning, despite iron therapy. In rodent models, early iron deficiency impairs the hippocampus and the dopamine system. We examined the possibility that young adults who had experienced chronic, severe, iron deficiency as infants would exhibit deficits on neurocognitive tests with documented frontostriatal (Trail Making Test, Intra-/Extra-dimensional Shift, Stockings of Cambridge, Spatial Working Memory, Rapid Visual Information Processing) and hippocampal specificity (Pattern Recognition Memory, Spatial Recognition Memory). Participants with chronic, severe iron deficiency in infancy performed less well on frontostriatal-mediated executive functions, including inhibitory control, set-shifting, and planning. Participants also exhibited impairment on a hippocampus-based recognition memory task. We suggest that these deficits may result from the long-term effects of early iron deficiency on the dopamine system, the hippocampus, and their interaction.
Lukowski AF, Koss M, Burden MJ, Jonides J, Nelson CA, Kaciroti N, Jimenez E, Lozoff B. Iron deficiency in infancy and neurocognitive functioning at 19 years: evidence of long-term deficits in executive function and recognition memory. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 April Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.