The Effects of an Oil and Wheat Flour Fortification Program on Pre-School Children and Women of Reproductive Age Living in Côte d’Ivoire, a Malaria-Endemic Area
Anemia and micronutrient deficiencies are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, but the impact of food fortification is still debated. The objective of this study was to estimate the iron and vitamin A status of preschool children (PSC) and women of reproductive age (WRA) in households consuming fortified oil and wheat flour. The survey was cross-sectional in a rural and an urban area. Data on demographics, socioeconomic status, and fortified foods were collected at households. Hemoglobin (Hb), retinol binding protein (RBP), ferritin, soluble transferrin receptors (sTfR), subclinical inflammation, and Plasmodium spp. infection data were collected. In PSC, vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was prevalent, but for each 1 mg retinol equivalents (RE)/kg of oil consumed, RBP increased by 0.37 μmol/L (p = 0.03). In WRA, there was no significant VAD in the population (0.7%). Anemia was found in 92.2% of rural and 56.3% of urban PSC (p < 0.001). PSC with access to adequately fortified flour had Hb concentrations 15.7 g/L higher than those who did not (p < 0.001). Hb levels increased by +0.238 g/L per mg/kg increase in iron fortification levels (p < 0.001). The national program fortifying vegetable oil with vitamin A and wheat flour with iron and folic acid may have contributed to improved micronutrient status of PSC from two areas in Côte d’Ivoire.