Effect of daily iron supplementation on health in children aged 4–23 months

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In children aged 4–23 months, daily iron supplementation effectively reduces anaemia. However, the adverse effect profile of iron supplements and effects on development and growth are uncertain. Adequately powered trials are needed to establish the non-haematological benefits and risks from iron supplementation in this group.

Anemia effects around 47% of preschool children world-wide. Iron supplementation is a commonly recommended method of treatment. This review aimed to review the evidence of the benefits and safety of using iron supplementation to treat anemia in children aged 4-23 months. Forty-nine articles were included, however only nine studies were deemed to be at low risk of bias. Results showed, in children receiving iron supplements, the risk ratio for anemia was 0·61, for iron deficiency was 0·30 and for iron deficiency anemia was 0·14. No difference in mental or psychomotor development was observed. No significant difference in final length, length-for-age, final weight or weight-for-age was noted. Children randomized to iron had slightly lesser and weight gain. Vomiting and fever were more prevalent in children receiving iron.

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