- Vitamin A
Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among young children and is estimated to cause at least 1 million deaths each year especially among pregnant women and young children under the age of five years. Vitamin A supplementation is known to reduce morbidity and mortality in young children. Zinc is required for growth and immunity and we sought to replicate the study by Zeba et al. which showed 30% lower cases of clinical malaria in children on a combination of zinc and a large dose of vitamin A compared with children on vitamin A alone based on the hypothesis that combined vitamin A and zinc reduced symptomatic malaria compared to vitamin A alone.
The primary objective was to determine the effect of vitamin A alone vs. vitamin A and zinc supplements on the incidence of clinical malaria and other anthropometric indices. It also sought to assess the effects on the incidence of anaemia, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
The study was community-based and 200 children between the ages of 6–24 months were randomised to receive either vitamin A (100,000 IU for infants less than 12 months & 200,000 IU for children greater than 12 months and 10 mg daily zinc in the intervention group or vitamin A and zinc placebo for 6 months in the control group.
The number of children who were diagnosed with uncomplicated malaria in the intervention group was 27% significantly lower compared with the children in the control group (p = 0.03). There were, however, no effects on severe malaria, pneumonia, anaemia and diarrhea.