Control of iron deficiency anemia in low- and middle-income countries.
Pasricha S-R., Drakesmith H., Black J., Hipgrave D., Biggs B-A.
Despite worldwide economic and scientific development, more than a quarter of the world's population remains anemic, and about half of this burden is a result of iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA is most prevalent among preschool children and women. Among women, iron supplementation improves physical and cognitive performance, work productivity, and well-being, and iron during pregnancy improves maternal, neonatal, infant, and even long-term child outcomes. Among children, iron may improve cognitive, psychomotor, and physical development, but the evidence for this is more limited. Strategies to control IDA include daily and intermittent iron supplementation, home fortification with micronutrient powders, fortification of staple foods and condiments, and activities to improve food security and dietary diversity. The safety of routine iron supplementation in settings where infectious diseases, particularly malaria, are endemic remains uncertain. The World Health Organization is revising global guidelines for controlling IDA. Implementation of anemia control programs in developing countries requires careful baseline epidemiologic evaluation, selection of appropriate interventions that suit the population, and ongoing monitoring to ensure safety and effectiveness. This review provides an overview and an approach for the implementation of public health interventions for controlling IDA in low- and middle-income countries, with an emphasis on current evidence-based recommendations.