Adolescents 1019 Years

Adolescent girls are at special nutritional risk, especially for iron deficiency anemia, with menstruation taking place while growth is still not complete. Few intervention studies have been done on adolescent girls, and those that have focused on anemia prevention. Well-supervised intermittent iron supplementation to adolescent girls in schools or the workplace can reduce their prevalence of anemia. Although iron supplements have been shown to be important for correcting iron deficiency anemia in adolescent girls, there is only a modest improvement in storage iron status in early pregnancy following supplementation in adolescence if the time between the end of supplementation and conception is more than a few months. Iron supplementation in adolescence cannot build sufficient stores to substitute for the need for iron supplements in pregnancy.

Secondary schools are the easiest way to reach adolescents, although in many countries relatively few girls go to school compared to boys. Supplementary food can also be provided through school meals to induce growth and maximize the pubertal growth spurt, increase school attendance, and serve as an excellent opportunity for nutrition and health education relevant to the age group. Such interventions are likely to be effective because of the potential for good supervision. However, any credible intervention program will have to reach the girls who do not attend school. Currently, the few activities targeted to this age group center around HIV/ AIDS awareness and education, including the prevention and management of sexually transmitted diseases. These children, especially girls, are particularly vulnerable and often have no voice in the community.

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