Relative Contributions of Malaria, Inflammation, and Deficiencies of Iron and Vitamin A to the Burden of Anemia during Low and High Malaria Seasons in Rural Zambian Children


Objective: To estimate the burden of anemia attributable to malaria, inflammation, and deficiency of iron or vitamin A during low and high malaria seasons among Zambian children. Study design: From a cohort of children (n = 820), 4-8 years of age participating in a randomized controlled trial of pro-vitamin A, we estimated attributable fractions for anemia (hemoglobin of <110 or 115 g/L, by age) owing to current malaria or inflammation (C-reactive protein of >5 mg/L, or α-1 acid glycoprotein of >1 g/L, or both), and current or prior iron deficiency (ID; defined as low ferritin [<12 or 15 μg/L for age <5 or >5 years] or functional ID [soluble transferrin receptor of >8.3 mg/L] or both) and vitamin A deficiency (retinol of <0.7 μmol/L), during low and high malaria seasons, using multivariate logistic regression. Serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, and retinol were adjusted for inflammation. Results: The burden of anemia independently associated with current malaria, inflammation, ID, and vitamin A deficiency in the low malaria season were 12% (P < .001), 6% (P = .005), 14% (P = .001), and 2% (P = .07), respectively, and 32% (P < .001), 15% (P < .001), 10% (P = .06), and 2% (P = .06), respectively, in the high malaria season. In both seasons, functional ID was independently associated with more anemia (approximately 11%) than low ferritin (approximately 4%). Anemia and ID in the low malaria season, accounted for 20% (P < .001) and 4% (P = .095) of the anemia in the subsequent high malaria season. Conclusions: Anemia in this population is strongly linked to malaria, inflammation, and functional ID, and to a lesser extent, low iron stores. Integrated control strategies are needed.


Public Health and Sports Medicine

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Journal of Pediatrics