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June 1971

Nutritional Deficiencies in Disadvantaged Preschool Children: Their Relationship to Mental Development

Author Affiliations

Nashville, Tenn
From the Division of Nutrition, departments of biochemistry and medicine, Division of Biostatistics, Department of Preventive Medicine, and the Department of Dietetics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and the Bill Wilkerson Hearing and Speech Center, Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Sandstead is now with the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Laboratory, Grand Forks, ND.

Am J Dis Child. 1971;121(6):455-463. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1971.02100170037001

The nutritional status of 100 preschool children from the economically depressed area of Nashville was evaluated and correlated with Stanford-Binet test scores. Findings included mild growth retardation, nonspecific physical abnormalities, and goiter (the latter in 8.7%). Laboratory studies revealed decreased body stores of vitamin A (96%), iron (35%), folic acid (17%), and thiamine (13%) in a high proportion of the children. Results of hospital oriented biochemical screening tests were normal. Significant correlations were found between initial intelligence quotient, final IQ, and IQ difference following language education, all of which related inversely to age. Biochemical indices and IQ did not correlate. Anthropometric measurements revealed correlation between height and serum vitamin A and iron, and an inverse correlation between head:chest ratio and erythrocyte transketolase activity.

Relevant ecologic factors included a marginal family income, a lack of parental understanding about nutrition, and a lack of parental supervision, particularly at mealtime.

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