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Food Nutr Bull. 2003 Dec;24(4):332-42.

Anthelmintic treatment improves the hemoglobin and serum ferritin concentrations of Tanzanian schoolchildren.

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Department of Economics, University of Houston, Houston, TX 77204-5019, USA.


To investigate the relationships between helminth infections and iron status among school-aged children, 1,115 Tanzanian children in grades 2 through 5 were randomly assigned to treatment or control groups. The children in the treatment group were screened for infection with Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm at baseline, 3 months, and 15 months; infected children were given albendazole against hookworm and praziquantel against schistosomiasis. The control group received a placebo and did not undergo parasitological screening until 15 months after the baseline. Hematological variables were compared between the treatment and control groups. The main results were, first, that the hemoglobin concentration significantly improved after treatment for hookworm (p < .001) by 9.3 g/L in children treated for hookworm only and by 8.8 g/L in children treated for hookworm and schistosomiasis. The ferritin concentration also improved in children treated for schistosomiasis (p = .001) or hookworm (p = .019). Second, a longitudinal analysis of the data from the children in the control group showed that hookworm and schistosomiasis loads were negatively associated with hemoglobin and ferritin concentrations. Moreover, ferritin concentrations increased as C-reactive protein levels increased. Overall, the results showed that anthelmintic treatment is a useful tool for reducing anemia in areas with high hookworm and schistosomiasis endemicity. The empirical relationship between ferritin and C-reactive protein indicated that simple procedures for adjusting cutoff points for the use of ferritin as an indicator of low iron stores were unlikely to be useful in this population.

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