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Keywords:

  • development;
  • infant growth;
  • haemoglobin;
  • alertness;
  • responsiveness;
  • international nutrition

Abstract

Several recent studies have supported relations between infant behaviour (alertness and responsiveness) and nutrition in addition to investigating infant behaviour within the context of changes in iron status over time. Existing research is typically limited to the investigation of the effects of a single vitamin or mineral, and no studies have been found that examined the influence that early alertness and responsiveness have on growth in early infancy, despite the fact that relations between behaviour and nutritional status may be bidirectional. The current study used a sample of Ethiopian infants and investigated anthropometrics, haemoglobin, the frequency of alertness and the frequency of responsiveness at 6 and 9 months of age. Six-month weight-for-age predicted 9-month frequency of alertness, while 6-month haemoglobin predicted 9-month frequency of responsiveness. Compared with responsive infants, non-responsive infants at 6 months remained more non-responsive at 9 months, although weight-for-age for both groups converged at 9 months. Results support relations between nutrition and behaviour (alertness and responsiveness) and provide evidence of a potentially useful tool (the Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery) that was adapted to evaluate these relations in Ethiopia.