Iron and folic acid supplement aids in reducing anemia.




Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med

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Anemia can be defined as a reduction in red cell mass; or rather, a decline in the number of red blood cells necessary for our blood to be able to carry oxygen to our tissues. A diagnosis of anemia means that for some reason, there are not enough red blood cell being manufactured (iron deficiency anemia), there is a loss of red blood cells (anemia associated with acute bleeding), or that there is the presence of some illness in the body (anemia of chronic disease).

A healthcare practitioner will want to know what type or class of anemia they are working with in a particular patient and there are several different ways that anemia is classified which relates back to the different types of anemias mentioned above. One method is to classify on the basis of the "morphology" (form) of the red blood cells. Another way to classify anemia is through studying its etiology, or cause. The third classification refers to what is known as the pathophysiology, or how it actually functions.

In general, the signs and symptoms a patient might present depend upon how fast the anemia has developed, how old the person is and how healthy their heart is. Depending whether or not the onset of anemia is acute (comes on quickly), or chronic (develops slowly over a longer period of time), the symptoms may range from shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat to fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness, and loss of skin tone or color.

A recent study conducted in Dharan, Nepal, examined weekly versus daily supplementation of iron and folic acid in adolescent girls. The purpose was to determine which time frame of supplementation had better control of anemia. Over 200 healthy girls with an average age of 15 years were divided into 3 groups. These groups were matched for age and other characteristics. Group A received a tablet once a day for 90 to 100 days that contained 350 mg of iron and 1.5 mg of folic acid. Group B received this tablet once a week for 14 weeks, and group C did not receive any drugs. Only 181 girls actually completed this study. Prevalence of anemia dropped in Group A by about 48% and Group B dropped around 50%. Group C showed little change. The authors concluded that, "iron and folic acid therapy once a week is an effective alternative to daily administration and helps lower the prevalence of anemia in adolescent girls."1


1. Kumar Shah B. Weekly vs Daily Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation in Adolescent Nepalese Girls . Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Feb 2002;156:131-135.