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Food Nutr Bull. 2007 Dec;28(4 Suppl):S540-9.

Folic acid metabolism and malaria.

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Department of Haematology, Dorevitch Pathology and Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.


Folate is essential for DNA synthesis and the survival and growth of the malaria parasite. Folate sufficiency may be associated with an increased risk of malaria. Antifolate antimalarial drugs are of major importance in the prophylaxis and treatment of malaria. Folic acid reverses the inhibition by antifolate drugs of plasmodial growth or survival in vitro, and folic acid supplements given to children with malaria may increase the failure rate of treatment with antimalarials. There is no convincing evidence of a significant prevalence of folate deficiency in children in malarious areas, nor of a beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation on malarial anemia. In areas where Plasmodium falciparum malaria is holoendemic, universal supplementation of children with iron and folic acid may increase the incidence of severe morbidity and mortality. These regions should be excluded from the World Health Organization recommendation of universal folic acid supplementation of children in areas of high prevalence of anemia. This does not apply to supplementation of pregnant women with folic acid.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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