Background: In response to India’s unacceptably high burden of anemia among children aged 6–59 mo, the central government introduced the National Iron Plus Initiative program which recommends an intervention of iron supplementation to mitigate anemia, especially iron deficiency anemia. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the trend (between 2005–2006 and 2015–2016) in receiving weekly iron supplementation (WIS) among children aged 6–59 mo, and factors associated with receiving WIS during 2015–2016.
Methods: Two waves of the nationally representative cross-sectional National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data collected during 2005–2006 (NFHS-3) and 2015–2016 (NFHS-4) were used. The trend was measured using both rounds of datasets, whereas factors associated with WIS receipt were assessed from NFHS-4. The trend was assessed using a sample of 35,650 children from NFHS-3 and 202,227 children from NFHS-4. After exclusion of 8978 cases, a total of 199,110 children were included to analyze the factors associated with receiving WIS. Using appropriate sample weighting, unadjusted and adjusted (multivariate) logistic regression analyses were deployed. Application of the chi-squared test and checking for multicollinearity were also part of the analysis. The possibility of sample selection bias was tested.
Results: An increase of WIS receipt (from 4.6% in 2005–2006 to 26% in 2015–2016) was observed. Older children, children living in rural areas, children belonging to Scheduled Tribes, children of mothers with secondary education or higher, and children whose mothers had some mass media exposure had higher odds of receiving WIS. Children of fifth or higher birth order, children who were followers of Islam and Christianity, children from the richest economic group, noninstitutional birth of children, and children from high-focus group states were negatively associated with WIS receipt.
Conclusions: Despite improvement (between 2005–2006 and 2015–2016) in receiving WIS, coverage remains unacceptably low (in absolute terms). The suboptimum performance of WIS intervention demands further investigation.