Special Grain May Reduce Iron Deficiency

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. People with the condition do not have enough red blood cells. As the name suggests, iron deficiency anemia results from a lack of iron. The World Health Organization says half the pregnant women and about 40 percent of preschool children in developing countries are not getting enough iron. Anemic adults cannot work to their full ability. And pregnant women who are anemic have a greater risk of problems during childbirth. Michael Hambidge of the University of Colorado is an expert on child health issues. He says the effects of anemia on children can be permanent. In a new study, Dr. Hambidge and others suggest that new kinds of grain may help reduce iron deficiency. They tested flour made from a special kind of pearl millet.The researchers used traditional crop breeding methods to increase the amount of iron in the pearl millet. The process is called biofortification. Researchers in India prepared meals with flour made from the biofortified millet. They used the meals to feed 21 children who had low iron levels. Then they compared these children to 19 others who received similar meals without the biofortified flour. The researchers found that children who ate the high-iron millet meals satisfied their daily requirements for the mineral. The other children did not. Experts say millet is a good crop to reach those in need of iron because it usually costs less to grow than other grains. It also requires little rainfall. The first high-iron biofortified pearl millet is already on the market in India. For VOA Learning English, I’m Carolyn Presutti.

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