CHICAGO (AP) -- New research linking even mild iron deficiency with low test scores could help explain why teen-age girls tend to do worse than boys in math.
The study found that compared with children with normal iron levels, iron-deficient youngsters were more than twice as likely to score below average on a standardized math test. The increased risk was found even in iron-deficient children who had not developed anemia.
The difference in performance was most striking in adolescent girls, who also had the highest prevalence of iron deficiency.
The study was led by Dr. Jill Halterman of the University of Rochester and was published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Iron deficiency, sometimes due to blood loss or diets low in iron, is the most common cause of anemia. Adolescent girls are especially prone to iron deficiency because of their monthly blood loss from menstruation.
Previous research has linked iron-deficiency anemia with lower developmental test scores in young children, but there is less information on older children and on iron deficiency without anemia.
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