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Anemia and Iron Deficiency in Children: Association With Red Meat and Poultry Consumption

Moshe, Galit*; Amitai, Yona*; Korchia, Gerard; Korchia, Levana; Tenenbaum, Ariel; Rosenblum, Joseph; Schechter, Avi

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: December 2013 - Volume 57 - Issue 6 - p 722–727
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182a80c42
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objective: The aim of this study was to study the relative contribution of dietary sources of iron in children with high prevalence of anemia and iron deficiency (ID).

Methods: A cross-sectional study in 263 healthy, 1.5- to 6-year-old children in the Jewish sector of Jerusalem, Israel. Venous blood samples and a qualitative Food Frequency Questionnaire on iron-rich foods were obtained. Anemia was defined as hemoglobin <11 g/dL for children younger than 4 years and <11.5 g/dL for children older than 4 years; ID was defined as ferritin <12 μg/L.

Results: Anemia was found in 11.2%, ID in 22%, and iron-deficiency anemia in 3.7%. The prevalence of anemia was higher in toddlers ages 1.5 to 3 years compared with children ages 3 to 6 years (17.7% vs 7.3%, P = 0.01). Children with extremely low red meat consumption (seldom) had 4-fold higher rates of ID than those who consumed ≥2 times per week (odds ratio 3.98; 95% confidence interval 1.21–13.03; P = 0.023), whereas poultry consumption was not associated with ID. Soy consumption was inversely associated with ferritin (marginally significant, r = −0.134, P = 0.057).

Conclusions: The high prevalence of anemia and ID found in this study, mainly in children 1.5 to 3 years old, is related to low red meat consumption. The characteristically high poultry consumption in the Israeli population was not protective. The shift toward reduced red meat consumption and higher poultry consumption in developed countries may result in increasing the risk of ID.

*Department of Management, Health Systems Management Program, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan

Meuhedet Health Services

Hadassah University Mt Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Yona Amitai, MD, MPH, Department of Management, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, Israel (e-mail:

Received 4 August, 2013

Accepted 4 August, 2013

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This study was supported by a research grant from CTS Pharmaceutical Company, Israel.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,