Vitamin A supplements, routine immunization, and the subsequent risk of Plasmodium infection among children under 5 years in sub-Saharan Africa
Hollm-Delgado MG., Piel FB., Weiss DJ., Howes RE., Stuart EA., Hay SI., Black RE.
Recent studies, partly based on murine models, suggest childhood immunization and vitamin A supplements may confer protection against malaria infection, although strong evidence to support these theories in humans has so far been lacking. We analyzed national survey data from children aged 6-59 months in four sub-Saharan African countries over an 18-month time period, to determine the risk of Plasmodium spp. parasitemia (n=8390) and Plasmodium falciparum HRP-2 (PfHRP-2)-related antigenemia (n=6121) following vitamin A supplementation and standard vaccination. Bacille Calmette Guerin-vaccinated children were more likely to be PfHRP-2 positive (relative risk [RR]=4.06, 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.00-8.28). No association was identified with parasitemia. Measles and polio vaccination were not associated with malaria. Children receiving vitamin A were less likely to present with parasitemia (RR=0.46, 95% CI=0.39-0.54) and antigenemia (RR=0.23, 95% CI=0.17-0.29). Future studies focusing on climate seasonality, placental malaria and HIV are needed to characterize better the association between vitamin A and malaria infection in different settings.