Could low levels of iron and vitamin B12 contribute to bad behavior in young boys? | Inquirer Lifestyle
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Close  
  • share this

Could low levels of iron and vitamin B12 contribute to bad behavior in young boys?

/ 08:04 PM April 26, 2018

Image: tatyana_tomsickova/Istock.com via AFP Relaxnews

New research has found that a deficiency of iron and vitamin B12 in young boys around age 8 could be linked to behavior problems later in childhood.

Led by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, United States, the new study set out to assess whether levels of iron, blood concentrations of zinc, folate, vitamins A and B12, and anemia were associated with behavior problems in 1,042 children age 5-12 in Bogotá, Colombia.

The researchers looked at both internalizing behaviors, such as anxiety and depression, and externalizing behaviors, such as being aggressive and breaking rules.

ADVERTISEMENT

The team took blood samples to measure levels of the micronutrients and conducted an in-person follow-up assessment with around one-third of the participants after six years, using a questionnaire to assess behavior.

After taking into account other factors such as age at the start of the study, time spent watching television or playing video games, and socioeconomic status, the results showed that iron deficiency, anemia and low plasma vitamin B12 levels in boys at around age 8 were associated with 10 percent higher mean scores on the questionnaire for externalizing behaviors, with iron deficiency also related to a 12 percent higher score for internalizing problems.

“Iron deficiency is still highly prevalent in many regions worldwide,” commented senior author Eduardo Villamor. “There is less data on vitamin B12 deficiency but available evidence also suggests it may be a substantial public health problem in certain populations.”

Villamor added that the findings could also be relevant to other populations and that fortunately, correcting a deficiency may not always be complicated.

“In our study population, for example, we showed before that a school snack program increased vitamin B12 blood levels after three months,” he said.

Previous research on infants has also found a link between iron deficiency and subsequent behavior problems, however no known research had studied the effects of these micronutrient deficiencies in older children.

As to why the deficiencies may affect behavior, Villamor explained that some parts of the brain develop during childhood, and as these brain regions respond to environmental conditions at different life stages they could be involved in the development of behavior problems.

The researchers found no associations among girls, with Villamor commenting that “we don’t have a clear explanation of why there were sex differences, although we knew it was important to study boys and girls separately because they may differ in the timing of development.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Studies in rats have found that some micronutrient deficiencies affect male and female brains differently but it is not clear exactly why this may also be the case in humans,” Villamor added.

The results can be found online in the Journal of Nutrition. JB

RELATED STORIES:

Couple with 14 sons names newborn ‘Sheboygan’

Obesity could be putting children as young as 8 at a higher risk of liver damage

Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: child nutrition, Iron, vitamin B12, vitamin deficiency, Vitamins
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
newsinfo

Miaa extends runway closure to noon

August 18, 2018 08:37 AM

lifestyle

Wake-up call

August 18, 2018 08:29 AM

newsinfo

Soldier killed in NPA clash with Army in Quezon

August 18, 2018 07:45 AM



© Copyright 1997-2018 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.