Nutrition and Malaria

Helpdesk Query:

To what extent is undernutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, particularly Vitamin A and Zinc deficiency) a risk factor for malaria and the extent to which nutritional interventions can reduce incidence, duration and severity of malaria episodes.

Summary:

This review looks at articles relating to malaria and nutrition. These addressed different stages of the lifecycle, both vivax and falciparum malaria, and varying nutritional interventions. Of these, the 5-10 most-cited trials and reviews relating to each of general undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, vitamin A, or zinc were selected for review and the ten most relevant are included.

Some results of the papers include that 57% of malaria deaths in children under five were attributable to undernutrition.  Another paper looked at vitamin A (VA)/zinc supplementation in children 6-72 months. This found a 34% reduction in malaria prevalence and 22% fewer fever episodes in the intervention group compared to controls.  Zinc supplementation appeared to reduce health facility visits for clinical malaria by about one-third.

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