Behaviour, Cognition & Children (2007)

This study explored behaviour, cognition and children. In this preliminary study, researchers investigated the relationship between lead, zinc and iron levels and cognition and behaviour in school children within a lower income population. Forty-two children, aged between 3 and 5 participated in the study. Nutrient status was assessed using blood samples. Behaviour was assessed by teacher’s using the California Preschool Social Competency Scale, Howes’ Sociability subscale, and the Preschool Behaviour Questionnaire and cognition was tested using the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities.

The findings from this study are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution, particularly as the sample size was small. However, associations were seen between low zinc levels and higher anxiety as well as lower verbal scores. High lead levels were associated with lower teacher ratings of sociability and classroom social competence in girls. Children with both low zinc and low iron had the lowers verbal scores, although this result did not reach significance. The study does, however, contribute to the literature showing that levels of essential vitamins and minerals and toxic metals can impact children’s cognition and behaviour.

Hubbs-Tait, L. et al., ‘Zinc, Iron, and Lead: Relations to Head Start Children’s Cognitive Scores and Teachers’ Ratings of Behavior’, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(1), 128-133, January 2007

Click here for the abstract