Iron supplementation and iron rich foods for anemia in adults and low birth weight infants is important. 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 or an excess of iron rich foods and perinatal factors on fetal hemoglobin disappearance in low birth weight (LBW) infants is relevant. 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 to 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.
Dr. SM Chan and colleagues studies the ‘ginger vinegar soup’ and other special dietary practices in China that have been traditionally recommended for postpartum women in Hong Kong. ‘Ginger vinegar soup’ samples were collected at the 2 week home visits. Calcium and iron content were measured by the combination of dry ashing method and atomic absorption spectrophotometry.
The results were compared with other types of soup and food sources. The authors used a food frequency questionnaire was completed at the 6 week interview to assess the special dietary practices during this period. At the department of paediatrics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Shatin they gathered the results from 51 subjects. 22 ginger vinegar soup samples and 6 other soup samples were collected.
Consumption of special food items such as chicken, ginger, egg, and pig’s trotters, varied greatly among subjects. More poultry and similar amounts of egg were consumed by the 51 women studied as compared with the Hong Kong general population as such. Chicken soup and ginger vinegar soup were commonly consumed. Median iron and calcium contents of the ginger vinegar soup were 0.84 mg/dl and 4.65 mg/dl, respectively. This calcium content was higher than that of the other 6 soup samples, but was low as compared with other calcium-rich foods. Iron content of ginger vinegar soup was higher than that of the other 6 samples and was comparable to some iron rich foods. The scientists concluded that Hong Kong Chinese postpartum women followed traditional dietary practices to different degrees. These practices were characterized by increased poultry consumption. Iron content of ginger vinegar soup was comparable to some other iron rich foods.
In this Indian study, the effects of iron depletion and replenishment on molecular and biochemical indexes of iron status were investigated on the growth of male Wistar rats. The hypothesis is that iron leaves could overcome the effects of iron deficiency and modulate the expression of genes of iron responsive rather than conventional iron supplements or iron rich foods.
Iron deficiency was induced by feeding rats a diet deficient in iron for 10 weeks, while the control rats were kept on a diet of sufficient iron (35.0 mg Fe / kg diet). After the depletion period, the animals were repleted with different iron source in combination with ascorbic acid.
Iron deficiency caused a significant decrease (P <0.05) levels of serum ferritin and iron by 57 % and 40 %, respectively, compared with nondepleted control animals. Significant changes in the expression (0.5 to 100 times) of liver hepcidin (Hamp of), transferrin, transferrin receptor-2, hemochromatosis type 2 ferroportina 1, ceruloplasmin, and ferritin H were recorded in iron and iron-depleted rats repleted compared with nondepleted rats (P <0.05). Iron in the diet of Moringa leaf was found to be higher compared with ferric citrate in overcoming the effects of iron deficiency in rats. These results suggest that changes in the relative expression of hepcidin mRNA in the liver can be used as a sensitive marker for iron deficiency.