Timing of iron deficiency and recognition memory in infancy

Fengji Geng, Xiaoqin Mai, Jianying Zhan, Lin Xu, Michael Georgieff, Jie Shao, Betsy Lozoff

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14 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the relationship between iron deficiency (or iron-deficient, ID) and neural correlates of recognition memory depending on ID timing (gestation vs. infancy) and infant age at testing (9 vs. 18 months). Study design: Event-related potentials (ERP) were used in a visual recognition memory task (mother vs. stranger face) to compare healthy term infants according to iron status at birth and 9 months. Fetal-neonatal ID was defined as cord serum ferritin < 75 µg/l or zinc protoporphrin/heme ratio > 118 µmol/mol, postnatal ID as ≥ 2 abnormal iron measures at 9 months with normal cord-blood iron status, and iron-sufficient as not ID at birth or 9 months. Recognition of mother faces was measured by negative component (Nc) and late slow wave (LSW). These ERP components reflect attention and memory updating processes, respectively. Results: All groups showed differences in Nc amplitude elicited by mother and stranger faces at 9 months. At 18 months, only postnatal ID and iron-sufficient groups showed condition differences in Nc amplitude. However, the 2 groups were different in the involved brain regions. For LSW, only the 2 ID groups showed condition differences in amplitude at 9 months. At 18 months, condition differences were not observed in any group. Conclusions: This study indicates that the timing of ID in early life (fetal-neonatal vs. postnatal) modulates the impact of ID on recognition memory. Such impact also varies depending on the age of infants at testing (9 vs. 18 months).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNutritional Neuroscience
Issue number1
Early online dateJan 7 2020
StatePublished - 2022

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  • Infancy
  • event-related potentials
  • fetal-neonatal iron deficiency
  • postnatal iron deficiency
  • recognition memory


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