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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Adaptive Function, Behavior Problems and School Performance of Guatemalan School Children with Deficient, Marginal and Normal Plasma Vitamin B-12

item Penland, James
item Debaessa, Y - INCAP, GUATEMALA
item Rogers, L - U OF CALIFORNIA - DAVIS

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 1999
Publication Date: March 15, 2000
Citation: Penland, J.G., Allen, L.H., Boy, E., Debaessa, Y., Rogers, L.M. 2000. Adaptive function, behavior problems and school performance of Guatemalan school children with deficient, marginal and normal plasma vitamin B-12 [abstract]. Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. 14:A561.

Technical Abstract: Associations among indices of vitamin B-12 (B12) status and cognitive performance were previously reported for gender- and age-matched Guatemalan school children (aged 7-13 y) classified as deficient (plasma B-12 <220 pg/mL), marginal (220-300 pg/mL) or normal (>300 pg/mL). Reported here are findings from analysis of the relationship between B-12 indicators and measures of psychoeducational performance. Parents completed the Child Behavior Checklist and teachers completed the Teacher's Report Form, companion questionnaires that profile empirically derived adaptive function, behavior problems and school performance. Methylmalonic acid (MMA), homocysteine (Hcy) and folate, but not plasma B- 12, were related to several of these functional measures. MMA was negatively related to academic performance (p<0.007) and adaptive function (p<0.006) and positively related to problems of attention (p<0.033). Folate was negatively related to adaptive functioning (p<0.018) and positively related to social withdrawal (p<0.016), somatic complaints (p<0.001) and anxiety/depression (p<0.004). Problem behaviors of children with high MMA (p<0.039) and Hcy (p<0.031) were externalized, while those of children with higher folate were internalized (p<0.008). Vocabulary, reading and math skills, measured with the Inter-American Series Test of Reading and Number, were not significantly related to B-12 status. This is the first study to demonstrate a relationship between vitamin B-12 status and behavior in children, and findings indicate the need for an intervention study to determine the true role of B-12 in behavior and cognitive function. Partially supported by the Thrasher Foundation.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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