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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1995 Nov-Dec;89(6):672-6.

Iron, but not folic acid, combined with effective antimalarial therapy promotes haematological recovery in African children after acute falciparum malaria.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara, Banjul, The Gambia.


Whether children with malarial anaemia should receive supplementation with iron or folic acid is uncertain. Therefore, the effects of supplementary treatment with iron or folic acid, given together with chloroquine or pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine (Fansidar), has been assessed in 600 Gambian children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. After one month, haematological recovery was significantly better in the group treated with Fansidar than in the chloroquine-treated group (difference in mean haemoglobin level = 0.54 g/dL, P = 0.01). Children who received iron had a significantly better response than those given placebo (differences in mean haemoglobin level after one month and at dry season follow-up = 0.70 g/dL, P = 0.006, and 0.81 g/dL, P = 0.001, respectively). Iron supplementation was not associated with increased prevalence of malaria. Supplementation with folic acid did not improve the haematological response but, among children who received Fansidar, the treatment failure rate was significantly higher among those given folic acid than among those given placebo. Thus, supplementation with iron, but not folic acid, improves haematological recovery without increasing susceptibility to malaria.

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