Background: Iron deficiency may inhibit the height increase and weight gain of children.
On the other hand, the supplementation of iron causes gut microbiota imbalance which leads to inflammation
and diarrhea. The addition of synbiotic fermented milk is expected to have beneficial effects
on iron supplementation. This study aimed to determine the effects of iron supplementation only
and its administration with synbiotic fermented milk on iron status, body height and weight, and
gut microbiota profile of iron deficient elementary school children.
Methods: This research was an experimental study with pre and post test conducted on 59 irondeficient
children. Subjects were given iron supplementation in syrups (IS group) or given iron supplementation
in syrup with fermented milk (containing synbiotic Lactobacillus plantarum Dad 13
and fructo-oligosaccharide) (ISFM group) for 3 months. The body weight and height, hemoglobin
and serum ferritin levels, and total number of Lactobacilli, Enterobacteria, Bifidobacteria, and Escherichia
coli were measured at the beginning and the end of the study.
Results: The body height in the ISFM group increased significantly than that in IS group after the intervention
(1.67 vs. 2.42, p<0.05). The hemoglobin and serum ferritin levels in IS and ISFM groups
were improved significantly (p<0.05) although the difference between the two groups was not significant
(p>0.05). The results showed no significant difference of gut microbiota profile between the IS
and ISFM groups (p>0.05).
Conclusion: There is no difference on the iron status, height, weight, and gut microbiota profile of
iron-deficient primary school children received iron supplementation only or iron supplementation
with synbiotic fermented milk.