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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2004 Aug;71(2 Suppl):55-63.

Undernutrition as an underlying cause of malaria morbidity and mortality in children less than five years old.

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Center for Human Nutrition, and Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Undernutrition is highly prevalent in many areas in which morbidity and mortality from malaria is unacceptably high. That undernutrition exacerbates diarrhea and respiratory infections is widely demonstrated; however, research suggests that it may exacerbate, palliate, or have little effect on malaria outcomes. This review examines the global burden of malaria associated with various nutrient deficiencies as well as underweight status in children 0-4 years of age. Although the association is complex and requires additional research, improved nutritional status lessens the severity of malaria episodes and results in fewer deaths due to malaria. Deficiencies in vitamin A, zinc, iron, folate, as well as other micronutrients are responsible for a substantial proportion of malaria morbidity and mortality. It is recommended that nutrition programs be integrated into existing malaria intervention programs.

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