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Nutrition Intervention among Children under 24 months suffering from Iron Deficiency Anemia in rural Cameroon

Author(s): Marlyne-Josephine Mananga, Kana Sop Marie, Nolla Nicolas, Tetanye Ekoe and Gouado Inocent

Almost 63% of young children living in Cameroon are anemic. However, young children in rural area are most affected. Current policy recommends the need to combine several strategies to reduce the burden of anemia in rural areas. A 20-week nutrition intervention program consisting of 4 weeks of nutrition education and 16 weeks of iron supplementation was carried out in 50 Cameroonian children aged 6-23 months in rural area, with mild iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Participants were distributed randomly by drawing lots into intervention and control groups with 25 participants in each group. A nutrition knowledge questionnaire, anthropometric measurements, hemoglobin (Hb) level, serum ferritin (SF), serum iron and iron status biomarkers were obtained in both groups before and after nutrition intervention. At the end of the study, the mothers of intervention group had greater knowledge on iron, IDA and dietary strategies to reduce IDA in children. Concerning anthropometric parameters, there were no significant differences in the weight/age, height/age and weight/height (p>0.05) before and after the intervention in both groups. At the end of nutrition intervention, a significant gain in Hb level was found in the both groups but significant difference was observed in the intervention group (10.63±0.18 and 11.46±0.19g/L; p=0.0001). However, the SF and serum iron were significantly lower in the control group compared to the intervention group (18.89±7.54 µg/L vs 28.93±5.81 µg/L; p=0.03) and (11.46±1.02 µg/L vs 19.65±0.78 µg/L; p=0.01) respectively. Iron status has improved in the both group. The incidence of anemia (28% and 76%; p=0.0007), iron deficiency (56% and 68%; p>0.05) and iron deficiency anemia (32% and 64%; p=0.02) was significantly lower in the intervention group compared to the control group. The study findings showed that, nutrition education combined with iron supplementation impact positively on the iron status of young children. It is therefore important to educate mothers or caregivers about good nutrition in addition to with others strategies.

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