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Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia with a combined supplementation of iron, vitamin A and zinc in women of Dinajpur, Bangladesh


Objective:The study was set up to determine to what extent the addition of a supplement of vitamin A alone or in combination with zinc would improve standard iron treatment and correction of iron deficiency anaemia.

Design: 216 non-pregnant anaemic women of 15–45 years of age with haemoglobin levels ≤100 g/l were randomly assigned to three treatment groups. One group (A) received iron alone, a second group (B) received iron and vitamin A, and a third group (C) received iron, vitamin A and zinc. Every woman was given one iron capsule per day for 60 days as FeSO4 containing 60 mg of elemental iron. In addition, groups B and C received 200 000 IU of vitamin A, given as a supervised dose, on the first day of the treatment after collection of the blood sample. Group C received one zinc tablet per day for 60 days as zinc gluconate containing 15 mg of elemental zinc.

Setting: The north-western part of Bangladesh in the urban slums of Dinajpur district between February and August 1995.

Subjects: To select women with a haemoglobin level of ≤100 g/l, all the women of four randomly selected municipal slums of the district in the targeted age group (328) were invited to take part in the study. Blood samples were analysed for haemoglobin, serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), ferritin, retinol and zinc.

Results: Out of the 328 women screened, 254 (77.5%) had a haemoglobin level ≤100 g/l and 322 (98%) ≤120 g/l. The three treatment schedules significantly increased haemoglobin levels and improved iron parameters, except for serum iron in the group who received iron alone. The group who received iron, vitamin A and zinc responded best with an increase in haemoglobin of 17.9 g/l as compared to the group receiving iron alone (13.4 g/l). Iron and vitamin A treatment gave an intermediate response of 15.9 g/l. However, these differences are only statistically significant only for the group who received iron, vitamin A and zinc and only for the increase in haemoglobin, P=0.03.

Conclusion: The results are suggestive that the addition of vitamin A and zinc to the treatment for anaemia can increase haemoglobin levels more than with iron alone.

Sponsorship: The present study was financed by grant FWO and Nutrition Tiers Monde.

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Kolsteren, P., Rahman, S., Hilberbrand, K. et al. Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia with a combined supplementation of iron, vitamin A and zinc in women of Dinajpur, Bangladesh. Eur J Clin Nutr 53, 102–106 (1999).

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  • Bangladesh
  • iron deficiency
  • vitamin A
  • women
  • zinc

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