- To estimate the prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia using haematological indices. Prospective interventional study. Healthy toddlers from Bedouin and Jewish towns in southern Israel. Capillary blood was sampled to assess iron status and nutritional history recorded. Parents were given specific nutritional instructions. Anaemia was defined as haemoglobin level < or = 11 gr/dL. Iron deficiency without anaemia was defined as mean corpuscular volume (MCV) < 70 fL and/or red blood cell width (RDW) > or = 16, with haemoglobin level > 11 gr/dL. Toddlers with iron deficiency were treated with 5 mg/kg/day of elemental iron. Follow-up iron and nutritional status was performed 1 and 2 months after enrolment. At the time of enrolment 42% of the 107 Jewish and 93% of the 43 Bedouin toddlers were iron deficient (p < 0.001). Significantly higher proportions of Bedouin toddlers were breastfed, drank tea, did not eat meat, did not take supplementary iron in their first year of life and were previously diagnosed with anaemia. Rate of follow-up was 55% among Bedouins and 33% among Jews. The mean haemoglobin rise over two months was 0.91 gr/dL (95% CI: 0.63-1.18 gr/dL; p < 0.001) in Bedouins and 0.58 gr/dL (95% CI: 0.14-1.02 gr/dL; p = 0.014) in Jews. Higher rates of anaemia and iron deficiency, as well as most of the risk factors, found among the Bedouin toddlers, call for the design and implementation of innovative, culturally appropriate interventions in the Bedouin population.