Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wham: Dietary Supplement for Developing Countries Cuts Anemia in Half

A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition describes the great success of a nutritional supplement known as Sprinkles, which can be added to children's food in developing countries. A new study shows that Sprinkles can reduce the incidence of anemia among poor children enrolled in an ongoing fortified food aid program implemented under difficult conditions.

The question of how to reduce iron and other micronutrient deficiencies among poor people in developing countries has been taken on by an organization called the Sprinkles Global Health Initiative. These deficiencies are a devastating problem worldwide, causing poor health, premature death and impaired development. Sadly, children age 6 to 24 months prove to be the most vulnerable to suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.

"When combined with other food aid initiatives, the potential impact of Sprinkles is huge," said Dr. Marie Ruel, a co-author of this study which described the health of poor children both before and after Sprinkles distribution.

The findings are based on a study in rural Haiti, where at least two out of every three children under age 3 are anemic. Children in the study were enrolled in a food aid program that included cereals fortified with iron and other micronutrients. After Sprinkles, a dry powder containing iron and other vitamins and minerals, were added to their food for two months, anemia rates among the children were reduced from 54 percent to 24 percent, and further reduced to 14 percent seven months later. However, anemia rates remained unchanged for those children in the study who did not receive Sprinkles.

While the study took place in Haiti, its implications are global. Sprinkles have been tried in other developing countries, such as Bangladesh, Ghana and Indonesia, and were found to be a very effective way to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.

Sprinkles were developed by the University of Toronto's Stanley Zlotkin and are licensed by the Sprinkles Global Health Initiative, which works closely with an international network of approved suppliers.

I can't think of a better way for those of us who are health and nutrition oriented to give back to society than supporting the effort to get Sprinkles out into the world community. Sprinkles cost between 1.5¢ and 3.5¢ per sachet and have a huge impact on the health of a child, and as a result, the health of our society. The Sprinkes Global Initiative is linked to the headline of this post. There is a clearly marked page for individual or corporate donations.


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