Home fortification with micronutrient sprinkles – A new approach for the prevention and treatment of nutritional anemias

Schauer, C. and Zlotkin S.
Publication language
Date published
01 Feb 2003
Paediatrics & Child Health
Food and nutrition, Innovation

Despite global goals set by United Nations' agencies over the past decade for significant reductions in iron deficiency anemia (IDA), it remains a largely unaddressed public health problem affecting more than two billion people, one-third of the world's population. The negative impact of IDA on health and human potential are greatest in the developing world, where it is estimated that 51% of children younger than four years of age are anemic, mainly due to a diet that is inadequate in bioavailable iron. Studies in both developed and developing countries have consistently shown mental and motor impairments that may not be reversible in children younger than two years of age with IDA. From a public health standpoint there are four possible interventions for the prevention of anemia: dietary diversification to include foods rich in absorbable iron; fortification of staple foods including targeted fortification of complementary foods for infants and young children; the provision of iron supplements; and 'home-fortification'. In response to a United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) request to develop a new approach to IDA, our research group developed 'Sprinkles' for home-fortification of complementary foods. Sprinkles are single-dose sachets (like small packets of sugar) containing micronutrients in powder form (encapsulated iron, zinc, vitamins A, C and D, and folic acid), which are easily sprinkled onto any home-prepared complementary food. Sprinkles were developed to overcome many of the side effects and disadvantages of iron drops. We have demonstrated that Sprinkles are as effective as iron drops in the treatment and prevention of anemia. Sprinkles are easier to use and are, therefore, better accepted than iron drops, which may improve adherence to iron interventions.