Research Summary

Bench to Bedside to Community: Integrated approaches to diagnosis and control of iron deficiency anemia in children by developing and evaluating point of care biomarkers and community based treatment strategies

Anaemia is a major public health problem and approximately 1.6 billion persons worldwide are anaemic (have low haemoglobin). Despite improvements in key health indicators, 3 out of 4 preschool Indian children have anaemia and 89 million such children live in India. Public health strategies to control childhood iron deficiency anemia have previously had limited success and could benefit from involvement of the community health worker. Health education and counselling of mothers, administration of iron supplements and close follow up of their children by the community health worker could overall improve childhood anemia prevalence. Unfortunately, giving iron supplements to control anemia in young children has previously caused unnecessary and unexplained side effects. Low cost, accurate biomarker tests identifying individuals with iron deficiency anemia in the community could help determine who should and should not receive iron supplementation, thus reducing the unnecessary side effects resulting from iron. My lab will attempt to answer two questions regarding anemia. First, what novel diagnostic biomarkers optimally diagnose iron deficiency anemia at the bedside and in the community. Second, does a lay health worker led educational intervention delivered to mothers and their children in the setting of a village day care result lower anemia rates compared to standard care. A combination of bench laboratory methods and a cluster randomized controlled trial in the field will be used to answer these questions.