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Title: The efficacy of micronutrient supplementation in reducing the prevalence of anaemia and deficiencies of zinc and iron among adolescents in Sri Lanka

item Hettiarachchi, M
item Liyanage, C
item Wickremasinghe, R
item Hilmers, D
item Abrams, Steven

Submitted to: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/11/2007
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: We worked with our long-standing scientific colleagues in Sri Lanka to understand the role of micronutrient supplementation in decreasing the risk of anemia in adolescents in the nation of Sri Lanka. We found that in a group of over 800 teenagers, giving them either iron with or without zinc increased their iron status. Anemia was greatly reduced by the iron supplementation program. We conclude that moderate and severe anemia in teenagers in Sri Lanka will respond to capsules containing iron and zinc.

Technical Abstract: Objective: To determine the effectiveness of combined iron and zinc over the iron- or zinc-only supplementation in correcting deficiency and possible interactive effects in a group of adolescent school children. Subjects and methods: Schoolchildren (n=821) of 12–16 years of age were randomized into four groups and supplemented with iron (50 mg/day), zinc (14 mg/day), iron+zinc, or placebo capsules 5 days per week for 24 weeks. Anthropometry, and haemoglobin (Hb), serum zinc (SZn), and serum ferritin (SF) concentrations were determined before and after the intervention. Results: There were no significant effects between-groups in their weight, height, and Hb concentrations with the intervention when compared with the placebo group. Iron-only and combination-supplemented groups had reached mean SF concentrations of 55.1 ug/l with no difference between them (P=0.99). The zinc-only group had a mean change of 4.3 umol//l, whereas the combine-supplemented group had a mean change of 4.0 umol/l (P=0.82). The prevalence of anaemia was found to be 70.3% in the iron group at baseline; this was reduced to 14.5% after the supplementation. In the combine-supplemented group anaemia, prevalence was reduced from 64.8 to 19.3%. Conclusions: Zinc alone or in combination with iron has not shown a significant improvement in growth in adolescence. Severe and moderate forms of anaemia were successfully treated in children who received iron supplementation. Initial high prevalence of low SZn and iron stores was significantly improved with micronutrient supplementation.