Effect of consumption of food cooked in iron pots on iron status and growth of young children: a randomised trial.Lancet. 1999 Feb 27; 353(9154):712-6.Lct
In less-developed countries, novel strategies are needed to control iron-deficiency anaemia, the most common form of malnutrition.
We undertook a community-based randomised controlled trial to assess the effects of iron or aluminium cooking pots in young Ethiopian children. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. The primary outcomes were change in children's haemoglobin concentration, weight, or length over the study period. We also did a laboratory study of total and available iron in traditional Ethiopian foods cooked in iron, aluminium, and clay pots.
407 children, one per household, entered the study. The change in haemoglobin concentration was greater in the iron-pot group than in the aluminium-pot group (mean change to 12 months 1.7 [SD 1.5] vs 0.4 [1.0] g/dL; mean difference between groups 1.3 g/dL [95% Cl 1.1-1.6]). The mean differences between the groups in weight and length gain to 12 months (adjusted for baseline weight or length) were 0.6 cm (95% CI 0.1-1.0) and 0.1 kg (-0.1 to 0.3). The laboratory study showed that total and available iron was greatest in foods cooked in iron pots, except for available iron in legumes for which there was no difference between types of pot.
Ethiopian children fed food from iron pots had lower rates of anaemia and better growth than children whose food was cooked in aluminium pots. Provision of iron cooking pots for households in less-developed countries may be a useful method to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia.