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Iron Deficiency in U.S. Toddlers Static Since 1976

Despite declines in some groups, prevalence is still high in Hispanic and overweight toddlers

TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Since 1976, the overall prevalence of iron deficiency in U.S. toddlers has not declined and continues to be elevated in certain high-risk groups including Hispanic and overweight toddlers, according to an article published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Jane M. Brotanek, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues analyzed 1976-2002 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II-IV on U.S. children aged 1 to 3 years.

Although the researchers found no change in the overall prevalence of iron deficiency, they observed significant declines among 1-year-old, black and poor children. Across all three survey waves, they also observed that Hispanic toddlers had at least a double rate of iron deficiency compared to white toddlers. The investigators also found that overweight toddlers were significantly more likely to be iron deficient (20 percent to 24 percent) compared to those at risk for overweight (11 percent) and those who were either normal-weight or underweight (8 percent).

"New approaches, including community-based outreach efforts, educational programs in clinics, policy changes, modified screening practices and public health initiatives, are needed to address the problem of iron deficiency in all U.S. children and especially in high-risk groups," the authors conclude.

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