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Home-Based Intervention Beneficial for Anemic Infants

Improves cognitive, social-emotional scores in babies with iron-deficiency anemia

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Infants with iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) who receive a home-based intervention -- consisting of weekly visits to foster child development -- show improvements in cognitive and social-emotional scores, but don't quite catch up with nonanemic peers in the latter category, according to research published online Sept. 20 in Pediatrics.

Betsy Lozoff, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues assessed outcomes on 128 6-month-olds and 149 12-month-olds who had IDA or were nonanemic (116 and 134 of whom, respectively, had at least two assessments). The infants received oral iron and were randomly assigned to a year of surveillance or intervention. Those in the intervention group were visited weekly, and these visits included an hour-long program that provided support to the mother-infant relationship.

The researchers found that, at baseline, infants with IDA were rated less positively than nonanemic peers in terms of social-emotional behavior. Those who received intervention followed trajectory patterns comparable to nonanemic infants in the intervention and surveillance groups, but IDA infants did not catch up in social-emotional behavior. Infants with IDA randomized to surveillance showed smaller increases in cognitive scores and had decreases in positive social-emotional ratings.

"Developmental interventions hold promise to benefit infants with IDA, whereas iron supplementation alone seems to be insufficient. However, the lack of catch up in positive social-emotional behavior that we observed points to the need to prevent IDA from occurring in the first place," the authors write.

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