American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Volume 98, Issue 3, 2018
Are Infants Less than 6 Months of Age a Neglected Group for Anemia Prevention in Low-Income Countries?
Authors: Cinta Moraleda, Regina N. Rabinovich and Clara Menéndez
Anemia is a major public health problem that affects mainly children, predominantly in low-income countries and most often due to iron deficiency (ID). Administration of iron supplements to prevent and treat ID anemia in malaria endemic areas has been controversial for decades; however, recent World Health Organization guidelines recommend universal iron supplementation for children in highly prevalent anemia settings, including those where malaria is endemic. However, infants younger than 6 months of age have been exempted from this recommendation because ID is not considered prevalent at this age and because of assumptions—without evidence—that they are protected from ID through breast milk. To achieve full impact of anemia prevention targeting infants less than 6 months of age who are at highest risk of ID, operational studies that conclusively demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of delivering iron supplements to young infants in settings with a high burden of infectious diseases, including malaria, are needed.