Combating Iron Defi ciency Anemia among School Going Adolescent Girls in a Hilly State of North India: Effectiveness of Intermittent Versus Daily Administration of Iron Folic Acid Tablets

Anmol Gupta, Anupam Parashar, Anita Thakur, Deepak Sharma, Parveen Bhardwaj, Saroj Jaswal


Background: National surveys in India have documented an increasing number of adolescent girls suffering from anemia. Efforts to build iron stores in adolescent girls will help them improve their prepregnancy hemoglobin level. To assess the effectiveness of school-based supervised weekly, bi–weekly, and daily regimen of iron folic tablets in the treatment of anemia among adolescent girls.

Methods: This randomized clinical trial included 331 anemic school going adolescent girls of Shimla district of North India. Study subjects were randomized to once weekly, bi–weekly, and daily iron folic acid regimen group. An intent-to-treat approach was used to analyze the change in hemoglobin level and serum ferritin levels at the end of the trial period.

Results: The rate of change of hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels from baseline to the end of the intervention was found to be similar in all the three groups (P = 0.64 and 0.98 for change in hemoglobin and serum ferritin). Bi-weekly treatment regimen results in comparatively more increase in hemoglobin levels (3.1 g/dl) as compared to once weekly (2.4 g/dl) and daily groups (2.3 g/dl) (ANOVA F statistics = 6.08, P = 0.003). Among the study subjects who reported side effects, more were from daily regimen group (55%) as compared to intermittent regimen group (25% in bi-weekly group; 18% in weekly group; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: In Shimla hills of North India, school-based intermittent iron-folic acid therapy is a feasible and effective intervention for increasing hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels of anemic adolescent girls.

Keywords: Adolescent girls, anemia, intermittent, iron folic acid

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