Introduction: Medicinal iron supplementation is a free and widely used intervention to prevent and treat childhood anemia.
Objectives: To determine the prevalence of anemia in a sample of children from Rosario, to describe the use of iron supplements in children included in the studied sample, and to illustrate variables potentially related to mothers' adherence to oral iron administration.
Population and methods: A cross-sectional study involving mothers and infants younger than 42 months old assisted by the public health network of Rosario from December 2011 to April 2012 was conducted. Sociodemographic variables and data on children's health, growth, anemia, and iron administration were collected. A rapid test was used to determine hemoglobin level.
Results: A total of 325 mother-infant dyads were included. The overall prevalence of anemia was 40% (95% CI: 35-45%), and it increased up to 56% in the 6-23 month old group. Fifty-one percent of mothers reported that their children had at some time received iron. Mothers' adherence to oral iron administration was higher in the group of children without anemia in comparison to those with anemia (OR: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.1-0.69). The most common causes for lack of adherence included gastrointestinal intolerance (38%) and forgetfulness (36%).
Conclusions: Prevalence of childhood anemia in the studied sample was high. A lower mothers' adherence to iron administration was observed in the group of children with anemia.