Weekly iron supplements given by teachers sustain the haemoglobin concentration of schoolchildren in the Philippines
To examine the effectiveness of weekly iron supplements given for 10 weeks by teachers to children in rural schools in the Philippines. Methods
Forty-nine rural primary schools took part in the study and were randomly assigned to two groups: children in 25 schools received a weekly tablet providing 108 mg iron while children in 24 schools acted as controls. All children were dewormed before the start of the iron supplementation. The haemoglobin concentration of a systematic sample of one in three children in two classes in each school was estimated before and 5–17 weeks after the end of the iron supplementation. Results
A total of 1510 children aged 7–12 years were studied at both surveys. The mean haemoglobin concentration of children in the intervention group did not change significantly; in the untreated group it fell by 3.8 g/l and the prevalence of anaemia rose from 14.3% to 25.6%. The difference between study groups was significantly larger amongst the younger children (7–8 years), and was observed in both anaemic and non-anaemic children. Conclusion
Even where anaemia is only a mild public health problem, weekly iron supplements given by teachers may prevent a fall in the haemoglobin concentration, and can benefit both anaemic and non-anaemic children.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2004