e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Daily iron supplementation in children 6-23 months of age

It is estimated that worldwide, 600 million preschool and school-age children are anaemic, and it is assumed that at least half of these cases are attributable to iron deficiency. Children are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiency anaemia because of their increased iron requirements in the periods of rapid growth, especially in the first five years of life. Iron deficiency anaemia in children has been linked to increased childhood morbidity and impaired cognitive development and school performance.

Iron supplementation has proven to be effective in increasing haemoglobin concentrations in children, especially in those who are anaemic.

WHO recommendations

Daily iron supplementation is recommended as a public health intervention in infants and young children aged 6–23 months, living in settings where the prevalence of anaemia is 40% or higher in this age group*, for preventing iron deficiency and anaemia.

* In the absence of prevalence data in this group, consider proxies for high risk of anaemia. For the most recent estimates, visit the WHO-hosted Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System (VMNIS).


Additional information for this recommendation, including a suggested scheme for supplementation, can be found in the guidance summary and in the guideline, under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines
Other guidance documents


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 November 2016 11:42 CET

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Essential Nutrition Actions

This intervention is an Essential Nutrition Action targeting the first 1000 days of life.