Background: Malnutrition is characterized by impaired nutrient ingestion and absorption, and it is still one of the most substantial causes of morbidity and mortality in children worldwide. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study investigating eye tracking in children with protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). We sought to investigate how PEM may affect eye movement. Methods: Twenty children without PEM (mean age = 10.8; SD = 1.0 years) and 18 children with PEM (mean age = 10.9; SD = 1.2 years). Here we used three types of tests or stimuli: one formed by a maze and two by seven errors games (boats and elephants). Results: Our results indicated that children with PEM had impaired performance on all of the tests used here. These data suggest that the nutritional impairments during the first year of life, the critical period in visual system development, can have direct impact on eye movement patterns. Conclusions: Our findings must be replicated so that neurophysiological patterns of PEM can be precisely understood. However, this study has repercussions in several areas of knowledge.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience