Iron supplementation and iron rich foods for anemia in adults and low birth weight infants. Physicians and scientists at the clinical research unit Nanoro, Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Sante (Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso) attempted to study women’s understanding of anemia and the role of iron in preventing and treating this pathological condition. A qualitative study was conducted within a randomized controlled clinical trial of weekly iron supplementation in a rural malaria endemic area. Focus groups with women of similar age, parity, and marital status took place in 12 of 24 study villages.
Moderate blood loss (diminished blood) could be easily replaced by eating well and was not considered as a serious condition. Iron tablets could increase blood volume and help women withstand massive blood loss at delivery, but for the latter, transfusion was indicated. Women had no knowledge of iron’s role and did not readily concede that iron supplements contained elemental iron. Neither adolescents nor field workers were convinced of the benefits of supplementing non-pregnant adolescents, who were incorrectly considered to be at low risk of anemia. Young women’s knowledge of anemia did not provide an adequate explanatory framework to motivate anemia prevention. Improving information on the role of iron is especially important for adolescent girls who may be incorrectly considered at low risk of anemia as they have not yet experienced pregnancy.
On the other hand, the effects of iron supplements and perinatal factors on fetal hemoglobin disappearance in low birth weight (LBW) infants. Physicians and scientists argued that iron supplements to infants affects the disappearance of HbF. At the Department of Clinical Sciences, Pediatrics at Umea University (Umea, Sweden) they randomized 285 low birth weight infants (2-2.5 Kg) into three intervention groups receiving 0, 1 or 2 mg/kg/day of iron supplements from 6 weeks to 6 months of age. In the present secondary analysis, we analyzed iron status, total hemoglobin (Hb) and HbF-fraction at 6, 12 weeks and 6 months and calculated absolute levels of HbF.
They observed dose-dependent increased levels of Hb in iron supplemented groups at 6 months of age. In linear regression analyses, post-conceptional age turned out as the major predictor of HbF, independent of gestational age at birth.
The Swedish scientists and physicians confirmed a close correlation to postconceptional age, supporting a genetically programmed switch, insensitive to most environmental factors including birth.