The impact of nutritional vitamin B12, folate and hemoglobin deficiency on school performance of elementary school children Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Deficiencies of nutrients such as vitamin B12, folic acid and iron are frequently associated with impairment of memory, concentration and learning ability. Deficiencies of these micronutrients are very rare in Western countries, whereas they are common in developing countries. This study was carried out to determine the impact of vitamin B12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency and/or anemia on the academic achievement of elementary school children from a low socio-economic population, i.e., impoverished Bedouin population living in southern Israel. Sixty-seven elementary school children, nine to eleven years of age, were randomly tested. Serum levels of vitamin B12, folic acid, and hemoglobin were measured using automated chemiluminescence systems. An individual questionnaire was filled out for each student, which included information on number of meat meals consumed per week, the number of people in the family and information about the father's employment status. Significant positive correlations were observed between number of meat meals consumed per week and low vitamin B12 levels and attainment of low marks in school, respectively. There was a negative correlation between the total number of family members and the attainment of low marks in school. No correlation between anemia or low folic acid levels and school performance was observed. Despite the small sample number, results indicated a high prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among these elementary school children, which could be linked to inadequate meat meal intake. This ultimately affected school performance of these children.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008