News article

Study reveals fortified milk and cereals can cut risk of anemia in children

Posted:  Friday, September 14, 2012

Micronutrient deficiency is a common public health problem in developing countries, especially for infants and children in the first two years of life, as their rapid growth means they have high nutritional needs.

Encouragingly, the results of a new study commissioned by the Nestlé Nutrition Institute, has found that milk and cereal products fortified with iron and a combination of other micronutrients can reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anemia in children 57% more than non-fortified foods and have more pronounced effect on hemoglobin levels than iron single-fortification.

Researchers from the Winterthur Institute of Health Economics in Switzerland analysed the combined results of 18 published trials involving more than 5 400 children; reviewing randomised controlled trials, reference list screening and hand searches.

The researchers used electronic databases (MEDLINE and Cochrane library searches through FEB 2011) to identify about one thousand potentially relevant trials to include in the study, before assessing their quality and risk of bias to select a final 18 trials for the study. These trials were conducted in Africa, Asia, South and Central America and Europe, and were largely conducted amongst low-income groups in rural communities, or communities on the outskirts of urban areas.

As the consequences of long-term lack of iron can include impaired mental development in children, decreased physical work capacity and impaired immune function the results have important health economic implications as authorities determine the most effective solutions to public health issues that also offer the best value for money.

Discover more about the study’s findings by downloading the subsequent report: Effects of micronutrient fortified milk and cereal food for infants and children: a systematic review  and watch the related video from Dr. Spieldenner on the NNI YouTube channel