May 12, 2008 (Honolulu) — Healthy, well-nourished children fed iron-fortified formula as infants scored an average of 11 points lower on IQ tests at 10 years of age than similar children fed low-iron formula, investigators announced here at PAS 2008, the Pediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Pediatric Research Joint Meeting.
Ten-year follow-up data were examined for 494 healthy Chilean infants who were not iron-deficient at baseline at 6 months of age and who were randomly assigned to receive either iron-fortified formula, containing 12 mg/L ferrous sulfate, or low-iron formula, containing 2.3 mg/L ferrous sulfate, for a year, with the objective of preventing iron deficiency.
Principal investigator Betsy Lozoff, MD, professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, reported that at 10-year follow-up, there were no background differences between the 2 groups, but there were marked differences in neurobehavioral growth and development.
Hemoglobin levels were assessed at every office visit from 6 months through 10 years. Motor development on the Bruininks-Oseretsky test, IQ scores, spatial memory, reading and arithmetic skills, and visual-motor integration were assessed to measure the effect of iron-fortified feedings on neurobehavioral growth and development, "when iron levels were normal to begin with."
The low-iron group had higher scores "on every outcome" at 10 years, Dr. Lozoff announced. The findings were significant for spatial memory and visual motor integration (P < .05) and suggestive for IQ, visual perception, and motor coordination (P < .10) compared with patients in the iron-fortified group, who scored lower on all of these measures.
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