Vitamin A and Malaria Risk in Children Under 5 Years
Johns Hopkins researchers report children under 5 years of age living in sub-Saharan Africa who are supplemented with vitamin A are 54% less likely to develop malaria.
This is big news. Why? More than half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria. The new evidence supporting vitamin A supplementation comes from an analysis of national survey data from 20,984 children living in 4 sub-Saharan countries (Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal). Vitamin A supplementation was protective against Plasmodium parasitemia. Genetically-related differences in associations between vitamin A and parasitemia observed in this study. Measles vaccination was not associated with any differences in risk of malaria.
Vitamin A is thought to regulate tumor necrosis factor alpha, a pro-inflammatory modulator, to affect phagocytic clearance of malaria-infected blood cells. Previously, vitamin A supplementation has been shown to reduce malaria-induced morbidity in Burkina Faso (Zeba et al., 2008), Papua New Guinea (Shankar et al., 1999), Tanzania (Villamor et al., 2002), and Uganda (Nankabirwa et al., 2011).
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