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J Infect Dis. 2006 Jul 1;194(1):108-14. Epub 2006 May 26.

Malaria, anemia, and malnutrition in african children--defining intervention priorities.

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Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Hamburg, Germany.



Malaria, anemia, and malnutrition contribute substantially to childhood morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa, but their respective roles and interactions in conferring disease are complex. We aimed to investigate these interactions.


In 2002, we assessed plasmodial infection, anemia, and nutritional indices in 2 representative surveys comprising >4000 children in northern Ghana.


Infection with Plasmodium species was observed in 82% and 75% of children in the rainy and dry season, respectively. The fraction of fever attributable to malaria was 77% in the rainy season and 48% in the dry season and peaked in children of rural residence. Anemia (hemoglobin level, <11 g/dL) was seen in 64% of children and was, in multivariate analysis, associated with young age, season, residence, parasitemia, P. malariae coinfection, and malnutrition (odds ratio [OR], 1.68 [95% confidence interval [CI], 1.38-2.04]). In addition, malnutrition was independently associated with fever (axillary temperature, > or = 37.5 degrees C; OR, 1.59 [95% CI, 1.13-2.23]) and clinical malaria (OR, 1.67 [95% CI, 1.10-2.50]).


Malnutrition is a fundamental factor contributing to malaria-associated morbidity and anemia, even if the latter exhibits multifactorial patterns. Our data demonstrate that malaria-control programs alone may not have the desired impact on childhood morbidity on a large scale without concomitant nutrition programs.

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