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World Health Organization Guidelines for Iron Supplementation in Infants and Children

Posted:  Thursday, September 08, 2016

World Health Organization Guidelines: Daily Iron Supplementation to Prevent Iron Deficiency

The World Health Organization (WHO) has put forth the following recommendations for daily iron supplementation in infants and children living in regions with 40% or higher prevalence of anaemia. In infants and young children aged 6–23 months, iron deficiency and anaemia can be prevented by administering drops or syrups containing 10–12.5 mg of elemental iron, daily for three successive months in a year. In preschool-age children (24–59 months), haemoglobin levels can be increased and iron status can be improved by administering drops, syrups or tablets containing 30 mg of elemental iron daily for three successive months in a year. In school-age children (5–12 years of age), iron deficiency and anaemia can be prevented by administering tablets or capsules containing 30–60 mg of elemental iron, daily for three successive months in a year.

In malaria-endemic areas, iron supplements should be administered in combination with public health measures taken to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria. When a child is diagnosed with anaemia, national guidelines for treating anaemia should be followed. Intermittent regimens of iron supplementation should be considered if the prevalence of anaemia is 20%–40%. Timely and continuous supply of supplements must be ensured for the most vulnerable populations like infants and children by selecting appropriate delivery platforms. When regular malaria-surveillance and treatment services are provided in malaria-endemic areas, iron supplementation does not increase the risk of clinical malaria or death. For children who do not have access to malaria-prevention strategies, prompt diagnosis of the illness, and treatment with effective antimalarial drug therapy, oral iron supplements should not be administered.

In areas where anaemia is highly prevalent, screening prior to supplementation is not required. Iron supplements should be administered to those infants who sleep under the protection of insecticide-treated bednets and where malaria can be treated with effective antimalarial drug therapy.

News source - World Health Organization; 2016. Guideline: Daily Iron Supplementation in Infants and Children. Geneva,