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Public Health Nutr. 2006 Oct;9(7):904-20.

Effect of iron supplementation on physical growth in children: systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Epidemiology, Department of Paediatrics, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, 110 002, India. hpssachdev@hotmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate the effect of iron supplementation on physical growth in children through a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

DATA SOURCES:

Electronic databases, personal files, and hand search of reviews, bibliographies of books, abstracts and proceedings of international conferences.

REVIEW METHODS:

RCTs evaluating change in anthropometry with interventions that included oral or parenteral iron supplementation, or iron-fortified formula milk or cereals, were analysed.

RESULTS:

Twenty-five trials (26 cohorts) had relevant information. There was no evidence of publication bias. The pooled estimates (random effects model) did not document a statistically significant (P>0.05) positive effect of iron supplementation on any anthropometric variable (weight-for-age, weight-for-height, height-for-age, mid upper-arm circumference, skinfold thickness, head circumference). Significant heterogeneity was evident, and its predictors included greater weight-for-age in supplemented children in malaria hyperendemic regions and greater weight-for-height for children above 5 years of age, but a negative effect on linear growth in developed countries and with supplementation for 6 months or longer.

CONCLUSIONS:

This review did not document a positive effect of iron supplementation on the physical growth of children. The identified predictors of heterogeneity should be considered as exploratory and requiring confirmation, not conclusive.

PMID:
17010257
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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