Long-term oral supplementation with iron is not harmful for young children in a poor community of Bangladesh

Amal K. Mitra, Syed M. Akramuzzaman, George J. Fuchs, Mohammad M. Rahman, Dilip Mahalanabis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The effect of long-term oral iron supplementation on morbidity due to diarrhea, dysentery and respiratory infections in 349 children, aged 2-48 mo, living in a poor community of Bangladesh, was evaluated in this double-blind study. The treatment group received 125 mg of ferrous gluconate (15 mg elemental iron) plus multivitamins and the controls received only multivitamins, daily for 15 mo. House-to-house visits were made on alternate days by trained community health workers for recording symptoms and duration of illnesses and for monitoring medicine intake. Seventy-six percent of the children continued the syrup for over 1 y. No untoward effects were noticed in either treatment group. The attack rates for diarrhea, dysentery and acute respiratory tract infections (ARI) were 3, 3 and 5 episodes per child per year, respectively. Each episode of diarrhea lasted a mean of 3 d, and those of dysentery and ARI, 5 d. The two treatment groups did not differ in the number of episodes, mean duration of each episode, or total days of illnesses due to diarrhea, dysentery and ARI. However, a 49% greater number of episodes of dysentery was observed with iron supplementation in a subset of the study children who were less than 12 mo old (P = 0.03). The results of this study suggest that long-term oral iron supplementation is not harmful for older children in a poor community. Further studies are needed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of iron administration in young infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-1455
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1997


  • Bangladesh
  • Children
  • Ferrous gluconate
  • Iron
  • Morbidity
  • Supplementation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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