The Irony of Iron Supplements

Calling progress “100 years behind schedule,” a 2016 report found that anemia reduction in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia has fallen barely 10-12% among women and preschool children since 1993 despite public health interventions to distribute supplements and fortified foods.
A team of researchers found that iron supplements can actually exacerbate anemia in areas where infectious diseases like malaria and diarrhea are endemic, as some supplements increase microbial growth and risk of malaria infection. Among a series of recommendations for evolving outreach, researchers suggest dual-delivery of iron supplements and malaria prevention efforts for children and prioritizing supplements for pregnant women in endemic areas.

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