Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

, Volume 68, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Iron Deficiency, Cognitive Functions, and Neurobehavioral Disorders in Children

  • Lyudmila Pivina
  • Yuliya Semenova
  • Monica Daniela Doşa
  • Marzhan Dauletyarova
  • Geir BjørklundEmail author


More than 25% of the world’s population is affected by anemia, of which more than 50% suffers from iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Children below 7 years of age are the population group that is most vulnerable to iron deficiency. Iron is an essential element in brain metabolism. Iron deficiency can cause changes in neurotransmitter homeostasis, decrease myelin production, impair synaptogenesis, and decline the function of the basal ganglia. Therefore, IDA adversely affects cognitive functions and psychomotor development. Research has shown that iron deficiency is a frequent comorbidity in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder. Iron deficiency may also induce or exacerbate deficiency of other essential nutrients, which may have a negative impact on the developing brain and other organs in infants. Many nations of the world have programs to control IDA based on the use of iron supplementation, intake of fortified food and drinks, improved food safety, and monitoring of dietary diversity. Based on the current recommendations of the World Health Organization on cost-effectiveness (WHO-CHOICE), iron fortification and iron supplementation programs can be considered cost-effective or even highly cost-effective in most countries of the world to averting cognitive impairment.


Anemia Iron deficiency Children Cognitive function Children ADHD Autism Psychomotor development 


Author Contributions

All authors confirmed they have contributed to the intellectual content of this paper and have met the following three requirements: (a) significant contributions to the conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; (b) drafting or revising the article for intellectual content; and (c) final approval of the published article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Semey Medical UniversitySemeyKazakhstan
  2. 2.CONEM Kazakhstan Environmental Health and Safety Research GroupSemey Medical UniversitySemeyKazakhstan
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineOvidius UniversityConstantaRomania
  4. 4.Astana Medical UniversityAstanaKazakhstan
  5. 5.Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM)Mo i RanaNorway

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