News article

Iron enriched pearl millet found to reverse iron deficiency in school-aged Indian children

Posted:  Friday, May 29, 2015

A new study has found iron bio-fortified pearl millet or Bajra to reverse iron deficiency in school-aged Indian children in 6 months. Incredibly, in just 4 months, the iron levels improved significantly.

The study enrolled school children aged 12 to 16 years, many of whom were iron-deficient, and had them eat iron bio-fortified pearl millet in the form of bhakhri (a flat, unleavened bread) at midday and evening meals. The results of the study were reported in the Journal of Nutrition.

The researchers found that iron-deficient children consuming iron bio-fortified pearl millet were 1.6 times more likely to have resolved their iron deficiency compared with those who ate bhakhri made from the ordinary pearl millet.

“More than 40 percent of these school-aged children were iron-deficient at the start of our study. We now have clear evidence that feeding iron-biofortified pearl millet to improve iron status in secondary school-age children works,” commented the study authors.

Iron deficiency is a widespread deficiency condition affecting 1.6 billion people worldwide. Lack of iron impairs cognitive development and behaviour in children. Pearl millet is eaten daily by more than 50 million people in the semi-arid regions of India and by millions of people in Sahelian Africa, making biofortification with iron a successful intervention to combat iron deficiency.

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