e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Intermittent iron supplementation in preschool and school-age children

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are highly prevalent among children. During childhood these conditions may impair growth, reduce motor and cognitive development, and increase morbidity and mortality from a variety of causes. Some of these consequences are lifelong if anaemia is not treated promptly.

Supplementation with iron once, twice or three times per week on non-consecutive days has been proposed as an effective and safe way to increase children's iron intake. These intermittent regimens may lead to fewer side effects than the daily regimen and increase adherence to supplementation.

In settings where the prevalence of anaemia in preschool (24–59 months) or school-age (5–12 years) children is 20% or higher, WHO recommends the intermittent use of iron supplements as a public health intervention to improve iron status and reduce the risk of anaemia among children.

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Last update:

25 March 2014 13:27 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee