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Major reduction of malaria morbidity with combined vitamin A and zinc supplementation in young children in Burkina Faso: a randomized double blind trial

Augustin N Zeba1, Hermann Sorgho1, Noël Rouamba1, Issiaka Zongo1, Jeremie Rouamba2, Robert T Guiguemdé2, Davidson H Hamer3, Najat Mokhtar4 and Jean-Bosco Ouedraogo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institut de recherche en sciences de la santé (IRSS), Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

2 Centre Muraz, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso

3 Center for international health and development, Boston university school of public health, Boston, USA

4 International atomic energy agency, Vienna, Austria

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Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:7  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-7

Published: 31 January 2008

Abstract

Background

Vitamin A and zinc are crucial for normal immune function, and may play a synergistic role for reducing the risk of infection including malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum.

Methods

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a single dose of 200 000 IU of vitamin A with daily zinc supplementation was done in children of Sourkoudougou village, Burkina Faso. Children aged from 6 to 72 months were randomized to receive a single dose of 200 000 IU of vitamin A plus 10 mg elemental zinc, six days a week (n = 74) or placebo (n = 74) for a period of six months. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted at the beginning and the end of the study, and children were evaluated daily for fever. Microscopic examination of blood smear was done in the case of fever (temperature ≥37.5°C) for malaria parasite detection.

Results

At the end of the study we observed a significant decrease in the prevalence malaria in the supplemented group (34%) compared to the placebo group (3.5%) (p < 0.001). Malaria episodes were lower in the supplemented group (p = 0.029), with a 30.2% reduction of malaria cases (p = 0.025). Time to first malaria episode was longer in the supplemented group (p = 0.015). The supplemented group also had 22% fewer fever episodes than the placebo group (p = 0.030).

Conclusion

These results suggest that combined vitamin A plus zinc supplementation reduces the risk of fever and clinical malaria episodes among children, and thus may play a key role in malaria control strategies for children in Africa.