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Food Nutr Bull. 2007 Dec;28(4 Suppl):S595-609.

Increasing iron intake of children through complementary foods.

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  • 1Program in International and Community Nutrition, Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, California 95616-8669, USA.


Low intake of bioavailable iron from complementary foods is the major cause of the high prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia among children 6 to 24 months of age in developing countries. Increased dietary diversity and traditional food-processing techniques are generally unsuccessful at completely closing the gap between iron intake and needs. Thus, iron-fortified processed complementary foods or home fortification (using powders, crushable tablets, or fat-based products) will be needed in most populations. Several studies have demonstrated that both approaches are efficacious, though there are limited data on effectiveness on a wide scale. The choice of which product to promote may depend on the context, as well as cost constraints. No adverse effects of increasing iron intake through fortification or home fortification of complementary foods have been reported, but large-scale studies that include sufficient numbers of iron-replete children are lacking. Further research is needed to verify the safety of iron-fortification strategies, particularly in malarial areas.

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