Nutrition for Life / Early Life Nutrition

The IDea study: tackling childhood iron and vitamin D deficiencies.

Study title

A micronutrient-fortified young-child formula improves the iron and vitamin D status of healthy young European children: a randomized, double-blind controlled trial.

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Study Objective

To demonstrate the impact of young child formula on the dietary intake of iron and vitamin D, two nutrients often lacking in the diets of young children.


Young children are not ‘mini adults’. They have unique nutritional needs, including for iron and vitamin D, to support the optimal growth and development of the brain, the immune system and to promote healthy bones. Although a healthy diet and sunlight exposure should in principle provide children with enough iron and vitamin D, a significant number of children in many countries worldwide are suffering from iron and vitamin D deficiencies.


The IDea study1Akkermans, et al. AJCN . Published on 2017;105(2):391-99 was a randomised, controlled, double-blind clinical trial looking at micronutrient deficiencies in young children in three European countries – the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

Healthy children aged 1 to 3 years (n=318) were allocated to receive either an iron- and vitamin D-fortified young-child formula or non-fortified cow’s milk for 20 weeks. Blood samples were taken before and after the intervention. The primary and secondary outcomes included change from baseline in serum ferritin (SF) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], respectively.

Countries: UK, Germany and the Netherlands

Study results

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) in January 2017, the IDea study demonstrated that:

  • The SF and 23(OH)D levels were statistically significantly higher in the intervention group vs. the control group.
  • The probability of iron deficiency and vitamin D deficiency after the intervention was significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group.
  • Iron and vitamin D deficiency remains a concern for many young children globally
  • Young child formula as part of a child’s diet can help to play a role in preserving iron status and improve vitamin D status in healthy young Western European children.

Click here to access IDea study infographic.

Read IDea publication page here

View References

View References
1 Akkermans, et al. AJCN . Published on 2017;105(2):391-99