OBJECTIVES: to assess iron nutritional status of public school children in Teresina, Piauí, Brazil. METHODS: a cross-sectional survey was conducted among 747 school children of both sexes, aged between seven and eleven years, who were randomly selected using a two-step sampling procedure, in August/September 2000. Children with hemoglobin (Hb) concentrations less than 11.5 g/dL were evaluated as anemic and low body iron (Sfer< 15µg/L) was evaluated in 207 children. RESULTS: the prevalence of anemia was 14.3% (95%CI 12.2-17.4) and of low body iron 20.3% (95%CI 15.2-26.6). Anemia and body iron depletion were not correlated with gender (p=0.60; p=0.96, respectively) or age group (p=0.85; p=0.53, respectively). SFer was not correlated (r=0.1; p=0.168) with Hb concentrations. The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (Hb< 11.5g/dL and SFer< 15.0µg/L) was 26.3% (95%CI 17.3-37.5). CONCLUSIONS: iron deficiency and anemia seem to be a public health problem among school children in Teresina. Concerted action to prevent and control these conditions is strongly recommended. However, all anemia cannot be explained by iron deficiency. Therefore, it may be wise to consider other etiologies, such as micronutrient status, parasite infestation, hereditary disorders and exposure to environmental pollutants.
Hemoglobin; Ferritins; Schoolchildren; Iron deficiency; Anemia Iron-deficiency