Malaria

There is new evidence that vitamin A supplementation may help reduce the morbidity of P. falciparum malaria - an important observation since P

falciparum causes an estimated 1-2 million deaths worldwide each year. There appears to be an association between poor vitamin A status and malaria (Sturchler et al., 1987; Galan et al., 1990; Friis et al., 1997). A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in Papua New Guinea to examine the effects of vitamin A supplementation (60 mg RE every 3 months) on malarial morbidity in preschool children aged 6-60 months (Shankar et al., 1999). Weekly morbidity surveillance and clinic-based surveillance were established for monitoring acute malaria, and children were followed for 1 year. Vitamin A significantly reduced the incidence of malaria attacks by about 20-50% for all except extremely high levels of parasitaemia. Similarly, vitamin A supplementation reduced clinic-based malaria relapses, which consisted of self-solicited visits to the clinic by mothers who thought that their children should be seen because of fever. Vitamin A supplementation had little impact in children under age 12 months and the greatest effect was from 13 to 36 months of age.

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