News / Health

Study: Nutrient Powders Can Prevent Iron-Deficiency in Children

Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.
Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.
Newborn babies are seen in a government hospital in Harare, July 19, 2011.


Kim Lewis
A recently released study says that scaling up micronutrient powders, MNP’s, is the key to preventing iron deficiency anemia in children worldwide. The research was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and carried out by the NGO Results for Development Institute in Washington D.C.

Multiple micronutrient powders are tasteless and can be sprinkled on any homemade food, making it easily digestible even for babies.  It provides vital vitamins and minerals that children need for growth. Because of their iron content, MNP’s play a critical role in preventing iron deficiency anemia, IDA.

Kanika Bahl  the managing director at Results for Development Institute,  said the report looked in particular at micronutrient powders and called for [their] dramatic global scale- up which can achieve improved nutritional status of tens of millions of children worldwide.

Bahl explained how iron deficiency anemia can contribute to life- long adverse effects: “On average,” she said, “infants with iron deficiency anemia score up to one-third lower on mental development tests than infants with better iron status.  To put this in context, over a child’s lifetime, iron deficiency anemia in childhood is associated with a four percent decrease in hourly earnings later in life.”

The managing director of Results for Development emphasized that the small one-gram sachet of vitamins and minerals cost only three cents per serving -- and it instantly boosts the child’s intake of vitamins and minerals.  But, she said globally, intervention has been slow.  Only a fraction of the 34 million children who need MNP’s receive them.  She said the Results for Development Institute recommends the international community mobilize a minimum of $200 million annually to scale up distribution of the nutrient powders.  

“Two hundred million dollars is equivalent to less than three percent of the global funding provided for HIV control in 2011.  We recommend that countries themselves focus with the international community on scaling [up the distribution of the MNPs],” explained Bahl.

She added that she was encouraged by progress being made in African countries.

“My team was in Kenya last summer, where it was reported that 69 percent of children are anemic.  But, here the national government has worked closely together with civil society and with the local industry to develop a comprehensive national development plans for these powders.  And this approach, working in cross sectors is something our report highly recommends,” explained Bahl, who described Zambia as being another country that is doing interesting advances with nutrients.

“In Zambia, the country made an incredibly interesting stride in developing vitamin A supplements in de-worming treatments, reaching 90 percent of the children.  We believe leveraging the infrastructure that has been so successful in health, and the political will that results in such strides in health, can equally transform the picture of nutrition of children in African countries like Zambia,” said Bahl. 

She said a major point of the matter is that all mothers want the same thing for their children.

“They want their children to be healthy, alert, and in some instances we’ve been told, tall,” she said. “So the message is micronutrient powders will allow your children to have the brightest possible future, one in which they are successful, they’re healthy, and they’re productive members of society.  It’s one of the most powerful messages around micronutrient powders available.”

Less than five percent of those children worldwide needing MNP’s are actually receiving them, but, Bahl said there is hope on the horizon.  It is a matter of countries worldwide making the simple, yet effective micronutrient powders a priority in the development of their children.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs