Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb;63(2):173-82. Epub 2007 Oct 10.

The effect of weekly iron and vitamin A supplementation on hemoglobin levels and iron status in adolescent schoolgirls in western Kenya.

Author information

Kenya Medical Research Institute, Centre for Vector Biology and Control Research, Kisumu, Kenya.



Iron deficiency anemia is a major public health problem in developing countries and may affect school performance and physical work capacity in nonpregnant adolescents, and may increase the risk of anemia during subsequent teenage pregnancies. We assessed the effect of weekly iron (120 mg elemental iron) and vitamin A (25 000 IU) supplementation on hemoglobin, iron status and malaria and nonmalaria morbidity in adolescent schoolgirls.


A total of 279 schoolgirls aged 12-18 years from public primary schools in Kisumu, western Kenya. Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial using a factorial design.


Five months of iron supplementation was associated with a 0.52 g dl(-1) (0.21, 0.82) greater increase in hemoglobin relative to iron placebo. The effect was only observed in girls with iron deficiency on enrollment (1.34 g dl(-1) (0.79, 1.88)), but not in iron-replete girls (-0.20 g dl(-1) (-0.59, 0.18)). Similar differences in treatment effect were seen between menstruating and nonmenstruating girls. The effect of iron was independent of vitamin A. The baseline prevalence of vitamin A deficiency was low (6.7%) and no sustained increase in hemoglobin was seen with weekly vitamin A (-0.07 g dl(-1) (-0.38, 0.25)). Incidence of malaria parasitemia was higher in the iron than iron-placebo groups (Rate ratio 1.33 (0.94, 1.88)).


Weekly iron supplementation results in substantial increases in hemoglobin concentration in adolescent schoolgirls in western Kenya, which may outweigh possible risks caused by malaria, but only in iron-deficient or menstruating girls and not in iron-replete and nonmenstruating girls.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center