e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Iron supplementation in children in malaria-endemic regions

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. It affects over two billion people and can lead to serious health outcomes such as anaemia and developmental delays. Children need more iron than adults (per kilogram of bodyweight), and are therefore particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency.

Some studies in young children have suggested that iron supplementation may increase the risk of malaria and death in children living in malaria-endemic regions. However, recent evidence suggests that iron supplementation does not adversely affect children when regular malaria surveillance and treatment services are provided.

WHO recommends that in malaria-endemic areas where the prevalence of anaemia in preschool (24–59 months) or school-age (5–12 years) children is 20% or higher, the intermittent use of iron supplements as a public health intervention to improve iron status and reduce the risk of anaemia among children should be implemented in conjunction with measures to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines


Systematic reviews used to develop guidelines
Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:34 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee