British Journal of Nutrition

Papers of direct reference to Clinical and Human Nutrition

Behavioural responses of young anaemic Indian Children to iron-folic acid supplements

Subadra Seshadria1, Kalpana Hirodea1, Pallavi Naika1 and Swati Malhotraa1

a1 Department of Foods and Nutrition, M. S. University of Baroda, Baroda 390 002, Gujarat, India

Abstract

1. Behavioural responses of young anaemic Indian children to iron-folic acid supplements were assessed in two separate studies using the Indian adaptation of Wechsler's (1967) intelligence scale for children (WISC).

2. The first study was an exploratory study in which the cognitive behaviour of 5–8-year-old children of both sexes was assessed before and after supplementation with 20 mg elemental Fe and 0.1 mg folic acid given daily for a period of 60 d.

3. The supplemented children showed a significant improvement in haemoglobin (Hb) as well as the WISC scores while the control children who did not receive any supplements failed to show an improvement either in Hb or in the WISC scores. However, within the supplemented group when the initially-anaemic children were compared with the inttially-non-anaemic ones, only the 7-year-old anaemic children performed significantly poorer in the tests than the non-anaemic group of the same age. The study raised the possibility that in addition to increasing the blood Hb levels, Fe-folic acid supplements may have additional benefits in improving the cognitive performance of children.

4. In the second study, cognitive behaviour of fourteen matched pairs of anaemic children in the age-range of 5–6 years was assessed before and after supplementation with 40 mg Fe and 0.2 mg folic acid given daily in two divided doses or sugar placebos for a period of 60 d. The tester did not know the group to which each child belonged.

5. The supplemented children showed a significant improvement in Hb as well as in the verbal and performance IQ of WISC. The control children showed no improvement in Hb but their verbal IQ improved significantly. However, there was no significant improvement in their performance IQ.

6. The results indicated that Fe-folic acid supplements to anaemic children not only raised Hb levels but also improved intelligence test results, particularly in the performance section.

(Received May 15 1981)

(Accepted March 23 1982)

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