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Malaria deaths caused by poor nutrition

Posted - Aug. 21, 2004 at 11:20 a.m.



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BALTIMORE, Aug 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A large percentage of child deaths related to malaria can be attributed to under-nutrition, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied malaria and related death rates due to being underweight and lacking micronutrients -- vitamin A, zinc, iron and folate -- in countries including The Gambia, Vanuatu, Ghana and Senegal.

While underweight children had only a slightly increased risk of a clinical malaria attack, they were much more likely to die from malaria. Nearly 550,000 annual malaria deaths are attributable to underweight in children under age 5, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Mildly malnourished children were two times more likely to die from malaria than children who were not under-nourished, and the risk was four times higher for the moderately malnourished and nine times higher for the severely malnourished, researchers said.

While the risk of dying from malaria increases with the severity of under-nutrition, most child deaths occur in only mildly and moderately under-nourished children because of their prevalence in many countries, researchers said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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