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In Sri Lanka 36% of all adolescents have inadequate iron intakes. Daily and weekly iron supplementation of 659 adolescent schoolgirls, divided into three groups, was studied in an eight-week double-blind trial. One group received 60 mg of iron, 250 μg of folic acid, and 100 mg of
vitamin C daily. The second group was given the same doses on a weekly basis. The third group was given a placebo. All of the participants were dewormed at the beginning of the study. Anaemia was more common among older adolescents. Haemoglobin levels increased significantly at the end of
the study. The prevalence of anaemia was reduced from 25% to 9.5% by weekly supplementation and from 18.5% to 8.6% by daily supplementation. The difference in haemoglobin levels between the two groups receiving supplementation was not significant. The daily administration of iron produced
a greater increase in serum ferritin than weekly administration. The unit cost of weekly supplementation was 3.24 SLR (Sri Lankan rupees), equal to $US0.05. On the basis of these results, long-term weekly doses of iron are suitable for the prevention of irondeficiency anaemia in adolescents.
Use of the school as the administration channel ensures compliance.
Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation. The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.
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