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Food Nutr Bull. 2002 Dec;23(4):384-9.

Impact of fortification of flours with iron to reduce the prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency among schoolchildren in Caracas, Venezuela: a follow-up.

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Centro de Medicina Experimental, Laboratorio de Fisiopatología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas (IVIC), in Caracas, Venezuela.


In Venezuela, a severe economic crisis starting in 1983 provoked a progressive reduction in the quantity and quality of food consumed by people from the low socioeconomic strata of the population. This situation resulted in a continuous increase in the prevalence of iron deficiency in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, an iron-fortification program was started, in which precooked corn and white wheat flours were enriched with iron, vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. White wheat flour was enriched with the same nutrients, except for vitamin A. In 1996 we published the results of the impact of fortification of precooked corn and white wheat flours on the prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency in the population. A survey carried out in Caracas in 307 children aged 7, 11, and 15 years showed that the prevalence of iron deficiency measured by serum ferritin concentration dropped from 37% in 1992 to 16% in 1994, only one year after the iron-fortification program began. The prevalence of anemia, as measured by the hemoglobin concentration, diminished from 19% to 10% during the same period. This article reports the results of three other surveys carried out in 1997, 1998, and 1999 on children of the same age and socioeconomic groups that were evaluated in 1990, 1992, and 1994. There were no significant differences in anemia or iron deficiency among the last three surveys. The prevalence results from the last seven years seem to indicate that, after a dramatic reduction in 1994, iron deficiency tended to stabilize, while the prevalence of anemia increased to the same level found in 1992, before the fortification program started.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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