Iron Sufficiency in Early Childhood and Preschool Cognitive Development in the Philippines

Tita Lorna L. Perez, University of San Carlos
Delia B. Carba, University of San Carlos

In the Philippines, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia has increased during the past decade. Studies revealed that anemia negatively impacts a child’s cognitive development. Using data from the Early Childhood Project of the Philippine government, this study examines the association of iron status at 6-24 months with the child’s IQ and school readiness at 5-6 years. Adjusting for age and sex, children who had been anemic have lower IQ and school readiness scores. After controlling for a range of confounding factors, iron status continues to be significantly, positively associated with cognitive scores. This association between cognition and iron status at baseline was independent of, and stronger than, the effect of iron status at cognitive assessment. These results suggest that anemia in infancy and early childhood can have lasting adverse effects on cognitive development. Ongoing work will explore possible policy impacts of preschool child cognitive development by reducing early-life anemia.

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Presented in Session 151: Population Perspectives on Cognitive Function and Mental Health