Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Infants- Developmental Disabilities

Published on: Modified on:



Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the fastest growing forms of malnutrition, inflicting infants and at least 40% of all adults with symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, painful tingling sensations, and psychosis.  Find out why researchers are troubled about the effect of B12 deficiency in infants…

Infants with B12 deficiency

Scientists have conducted many studies focusing on neurodevelopment issues in infants diagnosed with low cobalamin- severe vitamin B12 deficiency.  One such study conducted by UC Davis noted symptoms of neurological disorders in breast-fed infants born to women with pernicious anemia, including:

  • Irritability
  • Failure to thrive
  • Low growth rate
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Refusal of solid foods
  • Developmental regression
  • Involuntary movements
  • Alterations in skin pigmentation
  • Megaloblastic anemia

Babies, B12, and Fertility- B12 Deficiency during Pregnancy

How early can infants develop B12 deficiency?

For adults, vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms may take years to surface. That’s because the liver stores vast amounts of B12, and unless you lack intrinsic factor, your body constantly replenishes its supply of B12 whenever you eat foods like beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk. 

However, if you follow a vegan diet, or if you are unable to produce intrinsic factor in your stomach, then your vitamin B12 levels will eventually become depleted.

Newborn infants are not born with large stores of vitamin B12, especially if their mothers have pernicious anemia or refrained from eating foods with B12 during pregnancy or while nursing.

Even though they are born neurologically healthy and of a normal birth weight and size, symptoms of B12 deficiency usually manifest themselves between four to ten months of age, but can occur as early as the second month of life.

Brainy People are high on B12, according to Brain Health Study

Vitamin B12 supplements as treatment

After receiving vitamin B12 supplements to replenish stores of B12, infants began recovering rapidly from B12 deficiency symptoms of neurological illness, and eventually experienced a reversal of symptoms, confirming scientists’ beliefs that B12 deficiency causes nerve damage, brain atrophy, and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Find out if you or your infant has B12 deficiency by taking a simple blood test.

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency

Many other neurological and emotional ailments are attributed to low B12 levels:

  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • “Brain fog”
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Clumsiness
  • Poor motor control
  • Frequent stumbling
  • Painful tingling in hands and feet
  • Arms and legs going numb
  • Sore, red tongue
  • Altered sense of taste

Read more about B12 deficiency symptoms:

Juvenile Vitamin B12 Deficiency- the Dinosaur of all Disorders, say Scientists

Brain Drain Medications- Drugs that Drain the B12 out of you

Pernicious Anemia: Your 13 Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered!


Effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on neurodevelopment in infants: current knowledge and possible mechanisms

Image credits, from top:

**ShutterGirl**, Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography,