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Keywords:

  • anaemia;
  • ferritin;
  • haemoglobin;
  • iron deficiency;
  • weekly iron supplementation

Aim

To investigate the effect of weekly iron supplementation on anaemia and iron deficiency among adult, female tea pluckers.

Method

A randomized double-blind intervention trial was conducted in a tea estate in Bangladesh where a total of 280 women received either weekly iron supplementation (200 mg ferrous fumarate and 200 mg folic acid) for 24 weeks or a matching placebo. Capillary blood samples were drawn at baseline and post-trial to determine haemoglobin, haematocrit and ferritin concentration. Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) was calculated using the haemoglobin and haematocrit values.

Results

The mean haemoglobin concentration in the supplemented group increased by 5.52 g L−1 over the study period, on average, while ferritin values decreased by 0.33 μg L−1. The control group showed a decrease in both mean haemoglobin (−0.24 g L−1) and ferritin (−5.32 μg L−1). Those individuals in the supplemented group with the lowest pretrial haemoglobin and ferritin values experienced the greatest improvements post-trial, whereas nonanaemic individuals showed a decrease in both haemoglobin and ferritin concentrations. A total of 62.2% of women in the supplemented group reported feeling better and more energetic compared to 51.1% in the placebo group; 14.4% of the supplemented group and 22.7% of the control group complained about side-effects.

Conclusion

Weekly iron supplementation was logistically simpler and cheaper than daily supplementation but would have to be continued on a longer term basis in order to combat both anaemia and iron deficiency.