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Iron and zinc deficiency in children in developing countries

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 18 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:104
  1. Zulfiqar A Bhutta, Husein Lalji Dewraj professor and chairman (
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Aga Khan University, Karachi 74800, Pakistan

    Fortification is beneficial, but the best strategy for delivery is unclear

    In this week's BMJ Sazawal and colleagues report a trial of milk fortified with multiple micronutrients (as a strategy to deliver zinc and iron) in children in India.1 They found a significant reduction in severe illness and the incidence of acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea. Although data on the impact of the intervention on iron and zinc status are not presented, the functional benefits are consistent with the previously recognised benefits of zinc supplementation on the burden and severity of diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections.2

    Iron deficiency ranked ninth among 26 risk factors included in the global burden of disease study, and accounted for 841 000 deaths and 35 057 000 disability adjusted life years lost.3 Large sections of populations in Africa and Asia are at risk of dietary zinc deficiency and resulting high rates of stunting.4 Correcting micronutrient deficiencies can help reduce child mortality,5 but …

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