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Free Content Weekly iron supplements given by teachers sustain the haemoglobin concentration of schoolchildren in the Philippines

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Summary Objectives 

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.

Keywords: Philippines; anaemia; iron supplements; schoolchildren; teachers

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Save the Children (USA), Westport, CT, USA 2:  Save the Children (USA), Makati City, Philippines 3:  School of Integrated Health, University of Westminster, London, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2004


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