Iron dificiency anaemia and cognitive development of preschool children (4-5 years) in Goshi location, Malindi district, Kenya
Karisa, Grace kadziche
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Iron deficiency anaemia is associated with comparatively poor performance in tests of mental and motor development in infants and toddlers and of intelligence and cognitive function in preschool children (Stoltzfus 2001). This study was aimed at investigating whether there was any association between iron deficiency anaemia and cognitive development of preschool children 4 to 5 years in Goshi location, Malindi District. The justification for this study came from studies done by Lozoff 2006 that have demonstrated that children who are anaemic perform poorly in tests that measure cognitive/intelligence level. Iron deficiency anaemia among the children was determined through dietary intake of iron rich foods using a 24 hour recall and food frequency questionnaires. Anthropometric measurements were also taken on the children. This was aimed at determining those that were normal, moderately underweight and severely underweight. Assessment of pallor of the palms and nail beds was done so as to assess anaemia status among the children. Haemoglobin analysis was further done on 15 children to verify the results of palmar pallor. Cognitive abilities of the children were determined by their performance on cognitive tests scores. The tests consisted of the Ravens' progressive matrices, the Peabody picture vocabulary testing and the one word picture vocabulary. Classroom observation was on the children in order to determine the extent to which they were able to pay attention to classroom tasks. Data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and was presented using tables and graphs. Results indicated that iron deficiency anaemia was associated with cognitive abilities of preschool children in this area of study. Children who were non anaemic and well nourished had higher cognitive test scores as opposed to those who were severely anaemic and underweight. Pallor of the palms and nail beds was found to be an independent significant measure of iron deficiency anaemia especially severe iron deficiency anaemia. Dietary intake of foods that were rich in iron was found to influence body iron stores and hence presence or absence of anaemia among children. Nutritional status of the children was found to be a significant measure in predicting anaemia status because the children who were severely underweight were also found to be severely anaemic. Measure of vocabulary, picture recognition of simple nouns, sequence, perceptual and comprehension abilities were found to be significant measure of cognitive development among preschool children. Attention span to classroom tasks was also found to be a useful tool in measuring cognitive development. Intervening variables such as parents' economic status and literacy level were found to influence nutritional status and presence or absence of anaemia, and in general cognitive development of their children.