Five decades of trends in anemia in Israeli infants: Implications for food fortification policy

D. Nitzan Kaluski, A. Leventhal, Y. Averbuch, S. Rishpon, M. Cohen-Dar, S. Habib, I. Bellmaker, L. Rubin, S. Rachmiel, Y. Amitai, H. Palti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the secular trends in the prevalence rates of iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) in infants in Israel, identify population group differences and assess the effectiveness of the 1985 Public Health directives on iron supplementation and avoidance of cow's milk in the first year of life. Design: A systematic analysis of published and unpublished cross-sectional studies. Methods: IDA rates in 1-y-old infants between 1946 and 1997 were assessed from published papers and reports. Rates for Arab infants were available from 1984. Data on routine hemoglobin tests on 1-y-old infants for Arabs and Jews separately were obtained from four health districts for the period 1987 to 1997. Analyses were done for the periods prior to and following the Public Health directives. Results: The prevalence of IDA in Jewish infants declined from 68% in 1946 to 50% in 1985 at an average annual rate of - 1.43%. Following the iron supplementation directives, the average annual rate of decline increased to -4.0% and reached a prevalence of about 11% in 1996. IDA rates in Arab infants declined by an annual average of -3.7%, and were consistently almost twice as high as for Jewish infants. Conclusions: Despite the contribution of the iron supplementation program to the reduction in IDA, the persistently high rates indicate inadequate iron content in the diet. This emphasizes the important role of a national food fortification program, using staple foods commonly consumed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabs
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Iron fortification
  • Iron supplementation
  • Israel
  • Jews


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