Reversal of developmental delays in iron-deficient anaemic infants treated with iron

Lancet. 1993 Jan 2;341(8836):1-4. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(93)92477-b.


Iron-deficient anaemic infants perform worse in tests of mental and motor development than do iron-sufficient infants of a comparable age. A randomised, double-blind trial was done to monitor the effects of iron supplementation on performance in the Bayley scales of mental and motor development among 12-18-month-old infants in Indonesia. Iron-deficient anaemic infants (n = 50) were assigned randomly to receive dietary ferrous sulphate or placebo for 4 month. Similar treatment randomisation was done among nonanaemic iron-deficient (n = 29) and iron-sufficient (n = 47) infants. Before intervention, the mean mental and motor scores of the iron-deficient anaemic infants were significantly (p < 0.01) lower than those of the nonanaemic iron-deficient and iron-sufficient classes. After intervention, developmental delays were reversed among iron-deficient anaemic infants who had received iron but they remained the same among placebo-treated iron-deficient anaemic infants. Neither ferrous sulphate nor placebo had significant effects on the scores of the other two iron-status classes. The poor performance of 12-18-month-old iron-deficient anaemic infants in the Bayley scales of mental and motor development can be improved to the level of performance of iron-sufficient infants by treatment with ferrous sulphate.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Hypochromic / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Developmental Disabilities / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Ferrous Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Hemoglobins / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Hemoglobins
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Ferritins