12:01pm Tuesday 22 August 2017

Researchers identify best treatment for iron deficiency anemia in children

DALLAS – Researchers in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified the most effective treatment approach for children diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia (IDA).

Anemia as the result of iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, affecting up to 3 percent of U.S. children ages 1 to 2. Yet treatment methods and protocols have remained insufficient and under-researched.

The study, published online today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the efficacy of ferrous sulfate versus an iron polysaccharide complex – two of the more common therapies used to increase hemoglobin concentration in infants and young children with IDA. They found that once daily, oral low-dose ferrous sulfate (iron salt) provided a statistically significant increase in hemoglobin concentration compared with the iron polysaccharide complex.

“The rigorous, randomized clinical trial our research team performed was the first to compare two different iron supplements by defining the optimal dose and duration of iron treatment necessary in order to correct the anemia,” said Dr. George Buchanan, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern specializing in Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at UT Southwestern and Children’s Health. “Our hope is that these findings will have a substantial impact on standards of care for children with iron-deficiency anemia by offering an evidence-based treatment approach.”

IDA in infants and young children is most often the result of prolonged breast-feeding without iron supplementation and/or excessive intake of cow’s milk. Symptoms of IDA in children as well as adults include extreme fatigue, weakness, poor appetite, headache, and dizziness or lightheadedness.

This study, conducted at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, was performed over 12 weeks as a randomized clinical trial of 80 male and female patients ages 9 to 48 months who had been previously diagnosed with IDA.

Other implications of this finding include improving treatments for teenagers and adults suffering from IDA as a result of heavy menstrual bleeding and other causes. Further research will explore if a once daily, low-dose ferrous sulfate improves hemoglobin concentration in those patients as well.

The study’s research team includes Dr. Jacquelyn Powers, who is now an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital; Dr. Timothy McCavit, who is now a hematology/oncology physician at Cook Children’s Medical Center; Dr. Song Zhang, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at UT Southwestern; Ang Gao, biostatistical consultant in the Department of Clinical Sciences at UT Southwestern; and Leah Adix, senior research coordinator at Children’s Medical Center.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.

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Media Contact: Remekca Owens
214-648-3404
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