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close this bookGuidelines for the Use of Iron Supplements to Prevent and Treat Iron Deficiency Anaemia (International Life Sciences Institute, 1998, 46 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentAbout INACG
View the documentBackground
View the documentPurpose of These Guidelines
View the documentOverview of Interventions for Controlling Iron Deficiency Anemia
View the documentSelecting and Prioritizing Interventions
View the documentGuidelines for Iron Supplementation to Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia
View the documentGuidelines for Treatment or Referral of Severe Anemia in Primary Care Settings
View the documentFrom Guidelines to Programs
View the documentWhere to Go for More Help and Information
View the documentSelected Bibliography
View the documentAppendix A. Percentage and amount of iron in some commonly used iron compounds
View the documentAppendix B. Examples of materials used in iron supplementation programs
View the documentAppendix C. Addresses and World Wide Web sites for international agencies engaged in the control of iron deficiency anemia
View the documentAppendix D. Some sources of supplements and other supplies for iron supplementation programs


Iron deficiency anemia is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world today. It affects the lives of many millions of human beings throughout their life cycle, especially women and infants, but also older children, adolescents, adult males, and elderly. A major threat to safe motherhood, it contributes to low birth weight, lowered resistance to infection, poor cognitive development, and decreased work capacity. Yet with appropriate public health action, this major form of micronutrient malnutrition can be brought under control. These guidelines are intended to contribute to achieving this end.

A substantial reduction in iron deficiency anemia by the year 2000 was among the important nutritional goals adopted first by the World Summit for Children (1990) and reiterated by the International Conference of Nutrition (1992). There is thus an urgent need for the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Nutritional Anemia Consultative Group (INACG), and other partners to redouble their collaborative efforts in combating iron deficiency anemia and assisting countries in meeting this ambitious goal.

Although the guidelines' main focus is on iron supplementation programs and parasite control, they also take into account the beneficial role that food fortification and dietary diversification can play in controlling iron deficiency anemia. Further information on these approaches can be found in other documents from INACG and other organizations.

WHO, UNICEF, and INACG all have a long-standing commitment to providing public health planners and managers with scientifically sound recommendations for controlling iron deficiency anemia. It is hoped that these guidelines, which reflect current knowledge, will prove useful to those who are responsible for planning and implementing iron supplementation programs.

Readers are invited to comment on the guidelines so that improvements can be introduced in any subsequent revision.

Graeme Clugston, Director

Joy Riggs-Perla, Director

Programme of Nutrition

Office of Health and Nutrition

World Health Organization

U.S. Agency for International Development

Roger Shrimpton, Chief
Nutrition Section
New York Headquarters