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Public Health Nutr. 2008 Sep;11(9):971-7. Epub 2007 Oct 15.

Is cooking food in iron pots an appropriate solution for the control of anaemia in developing countries? A randomised clinical trial in Benin.

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Radiation Oncology Programme, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



To evaluate the effect of two types of iron pots on haemoglobin (Hb) and serum ferritin (SF) concentrations in young children (6-24 months), adolescent girls (11-15 years) and women of reproductive age (15-44 years), whose households were provided with iron pots for cooking food over a period of 6 months, compared with controls.


We randomly assigned 161 households including 339 individuals from the three subgroups to cast iron pots, blue steel pots or oral iron supplements (control). In the control group, children received micronutrient Sprinkles, and adolescent girls and women received iron tablets daily for 6 months. We measured Hb, SF and C-reactive protein concentrations at baseline and 6 months, and compared groups using regression models.


Anaemia prevalence (Hb < 110 g l(-1) in infants, Hb < 120 g l(-1) in girls or women) was 47% (cast iron group), 50% (blue steel group) and 50% (control) at baseline. At 6 months, there were no significant differences in Hb concentrations among groups; however, differences in SF concentrations were significant (P < 0.0001)--the control group had higher SF concentrations compared with the groups using iron pots. Also, differences in the prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA; anaemia plus SF < 15 microg l(-1)) were almost significant between cast iron and control groups (P = 0.08), and blue steel and control groups (P = 0.05).


There is no evidence that iron cooking pots are effective against IDA. Further research is warranted to determine whether the iron leached from the pots is bioavailable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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