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Iron supplementation for iron-deficiency anaemia

02 March 2023
Volume 5 · Issue 3



In recent years, iron supplementation has increased significantly because of the damaging systemic effects of iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) being reported. The standard first-line therapy is oral iron tablets, with over 70% of recipients experiencing gastrointestinal adverse effects.


This recent review of high-quality literature compares the effectiveness and adverse effects of tablet and liquid forms of iron supplementation in patients with IDA.


The evidence to date indicates that both forms of iron supplementation are equally effective. However, the literature consistently and strongly supports the use of the liquid form of iron supplementation (ferrous sulfate) over the tablet form (ferrous sulphate or ferrous fumarate) in terms of adverse effects.


Healthcare professionals should consider recommending the use of liquid iron formulation for the management of IDA and switch patients to this form if they experience gastrointestinal adverse effects. This may help to effectively manage IDA.

The global prevalence of anaemia in women of reproductive age (15–49 years) was reported at 29.9% (95% uncertainly interval (UI) 27.0%–32.8%) in 2019, with global prevalence in children under 5 years old reported at 39.8% (95% UI 36.0%–43.8%). Children under 5 years old from Africa were reported to have the highest prevalence of anaemia in this age group at 60.2% (95% UI 56.6%–63.7%) (World Health Organization, 2023). Iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), the most common presentation, accounts for 50% of all anaemias (Warner and Kamran, 2020). The development of IDA increases with advancing age along with an increase in associated morbidity, both physical and psychosocial, with occult bleeding the most common cause amongs older adults (Rockey et al, 2020). Disturbed iron metabolism plays a major role in several conditions associated with older age and adequate correction of iron deficiency may improve disease prognosis (Wawer et al, 2018). Iron deficiency is associated with a number of economic (work capacity, healthcare costs), psychological (reduced quality of life, reduced cognition) and physical effects (restless leg syndrome, fatigue, infertility, chronic heart failure, reactive thrombocytosis etc), even in the absence of anaemia (Jimenez et al, 2015). This review of current literature investigates the use of oral iron supplementation in people with iron deficiency anaemia.

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