Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Iron deficiency important to assess in children adopted from institutional settings

Date:
March 6, 2014
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Children who spent more time in institutional settings (like orphanages) prior to adoption, and had more severe iron deficiency at the time of adoption, were more likely to have lower IQs and poorer higher-order thinking skills a year later, a new longitudinal study finds. The study -- which followed children adopted into US families from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Asia -- suggests that iron supplements and cognitive interventions could be helpful in counteracting these effects.

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 analyzed 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 behavior, storing information in memory and then acting on that information, and thinking flexibly about situations).

"Our study shows that both the duration of institutional care and nutrition significantly affect children's cognitive functioning even after they are placed in a nurturing home," according to Jenalee Doom, graduate student, and Megan Gunnar, professor of child psychology, at the University of Minnesota, two of the study's authors.

"These findings are important for pediatricians, psychologists, and other specialists working with children adopted internationally because they highlight the importance of examining both nutritional deficiencies and children's pre-adoptive experience during evaluation and treatment."

Specifically, they note, children can receive iron supplements or cognitive interventions that address each child's specific needs. Common interventions for internationally adopted children include those that address sensory integration disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Parents should be informed about adoption nutrition so they make sound nutritional choices to optimize their children's development. 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.

Even children who aren't adopted may benefit from careful monitoring of iron status in early childhood, given that deficiency significantly predicted cognitive outcomes independent of how long the children in this study had been institutionalized, the authors note.

The study examined IQ, higher-order thinking skills, and iron deficiency in children adopted 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. But few studies have examined whether these children suffer from nutritional deficiencies that would help explain disruptions in cognitive functioning.

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 anemia. 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jenalee R. Doom, Megan R. Gunnar, Michael K. Georgieff, Maria G. Kroupina, Kristin Frenn, Anita J. Fuglestad, Stephanie M. Carlson. Beyond Stimulus Deprivation: Iron Deficiency and Cognitive Deficits in Postinstitutionalized Children. Child Development, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12231

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Iron deficiency important to assess in children adopted from institutional settings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306093750.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2014, March 6). Iron deficiency important to assess in children adopted from institutional settings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306093750.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Iron deficiency important to assess in children adopted from institutional settings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306093750.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain Surgery in 3-D

Brain Surgery in 3-D

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Neurosurgeons now have a new approach to brain surgery using the same 3D glasses you’d put on at an IMAX movie theater. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins