Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Nutrition and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Deloy G. Hendricks


Deloy G. Hendricks


LeGrande Ellis


Arthur Mahoney


Thirty-two non-anemic children were assessed clinically, biochemically and anthropometrically at six months, one year and two years of age to investigate the relationship of iron status to mental and motor development. Using dietary history and dietary record instruments, dietary iron was estimated and compared to the National Food Consumption Survey (1985) and the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for corresponding age groups. The Bayley Scales of Infant Development (which assess mental and motor development) and the Caldwell Home Inventory (which evaluates the environmental stimuli) were performed and correlated with blood iron parameters, anthropometric measurements and dietary nutrient intakes.

Nutrient intakes of these children were similar to those reported in the NFCS (1985) for one- and two-year-olds. Iron intake decreased from 13.2 mg iron daily (88% RDA) at six months to 10.3 mg iron daily (68% RDA) and 7.4 mg iron daily (49% RDA) at two years of age. The correlation between iron intake and development was not statistically significant at any age. Stepwise, multiple regression was employed to investigate the extent to which variation in mental and motor development was explained by dietary variables, blood iron parameters and anthropometric measurements. Hematocrit was the only variable that significantly explained variation in mental development at all three ages. The findings of this study were different from earlier studies in that there was no statistical correlation between iron status and mental development; but, it did confirm the conclusion of more recent experiments that iron status has little effect on infants' and toddlers' development. The finding that infants and toddlers consuming less than the RDA for iron do not display iron deficiency symptoms and were not developmentally delayed or compromised should be comforting to parents who are concerned about iron intake during this critical period of infants' brain growth.