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Open Access Research

Impact of vitamin A with zinc supplementation on malaria morbidity in Ghana

Seth Owusu-Agyei1*, Sam Newton1, Emmanuel Mahama1, Lawrence Gyabaa Febir1, Martha Ali1, Kwame Adjei1, Kofi Tchum1, Latifa Alhassan1, Thabisile Moleah2 and Sherry A Tanumihardjo3

Author Affiliations

1 Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC), Ghana Health Service, P.O.Box 200Kintampo, Brong-Ahafo Region, Ghana

2 International Atomic Energy Agency, P O Box 100, A-1400, Vienna, Austria

3 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:131  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-131

Published: 23 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among young children and is estimated to cause at least 1 million deaths each year especially among pregnant women and young children under the age of five years. Vitamin A supplementation is known to reduce morbidity and mortality in young children. Zinc is required for growth and immunity and we sought to replicate the study by Zeba et al. which showed 30% lower cases of clinical malaria in children on a combination of zinc and a large dose of vitamin A compared with children on vitamin A alone based on the hypothesis that combined vitamin A and zinc reduced symptomatic malaria compared to vitamin A alone.

Objectives

The primary objective was to determine the effect of vitamin A alone vs. vitamin A and zinc supplements on the incidence of clinical malaria and other anthropometric indices. It also sought to assess the effects on the incidence of anaemia, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

Methods

The study was community-based and 200 children between the ages of 6ā€“24 months were randomised to receive either vitamin A (100,000 IU for infants less than 12 months & 200,000 IU for children greater than 12 months and 10 mg daily zinc in the intervention group or vitamin A and zinc placebo for 6 months in the control group.

Results

The number of children who were diagnosed with uncomplicated malaria in the intervention group was 27% significantly lower compared with the children in the control group (pā€‰=ā€‰0.03). There were, however, no effects on severe malaria, pneumonia, anaemia and diarrhea.

Conclusions

Our study confirms a significant role of vitamin A and zinc in reducing malaria morbidity.

Keywords:
Vitamin A; Zinc; Malaria; Morbidity; MRDR