, Volume 32, Issue 10, pp 1665-1672
Date: 15 Jun 2007

Iron-Deficiency Anemia is Associated with Altered Characteristics of Sleep Spindles in NREM Sleep in Infancy

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To determine the effects of iron-deficiency anemia on the development of non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep stages, as indexed by sleep spindles.

Study design

Patterns of sleep spindles during NREM sleep stages 2 and 3–4 (slow-wave-sleep, SWS) were compared in 26 otherwise healthy 6-month-old Chilean infants with iron-deficiency anemia and 18 non-anemic control infants. From polygraphic recordings, EEG activity was analyzed for sleep spindles to assess their number (density), duration, frequency, and inter-spindle interval.


Iron-deficient anemic infants differed from the control group by having sleep spindles with reduced density, lower frequency, and longer inter-spindle intervals in NREM sleep stage 2 and SWS.


These results provide evidence of delayed sleep spindle patterns in iron-deficient anemic infants, suggesting that iron is an essential micronutrient for the normal progression of NREM sleep pattern development in the human.

Special issue dedicated to Dr. Moussa Youdim.