Infectious Diseases

Iron deficiency in the tropics.

Fleming AF
Clin Haematol 1982 Jun;11(2):365-88

Iron in food is classified as belonging to the haem pool, the nonhaem pool, and extraneous sources. Haem iron is derived from vegetable and animal sources with varying bioavailability. Hookworm infestation of the intestinal tract affects 450 million people in the tropics. Schistosoma mansoni caused blood loss in 7 Egyptian patients of 7.5- 25.9 ml/day which is equivalent to a daily loss of iron of .6-7.3 mg daily urinary loss of iron in 9 Egyptian patients. Trichuris trichiura infestation by whipworm is widespread in children with blood loss of 5 ml/day/worm. The etiology of anemia in children besides iron deficiency includes malaria, bacterial or viral infections, folate deficiency and sickle-cell disease. Severe infections cause profound iron-deficiency anemia in children in central American and Malaysia. Plasmodium falciparum malaria-induced anaemia in tropical Africa lowers the mean haemoglobin concentration in the population by 2 g/dI, causing profound anaemia in some. The increased risk of premature delivery, low birthweight, fetal abnormalities, and fetal death is directly related to the degree of maternal anemia. Perinatal mortality was reduced from 38 to 4% in treated anemic mothers. Mental performance was significantly lower in anemic school children and improved after they received iron. Supplements of iron, soy-protein, calcium, and vitamins given to villagers with widespread malnutrition, iron deficiency, and hookworm infestation in Colombia reduced enteric infections in children. Severe iron-deficiency anemia was treated in adults in northern Nigeria by daily in Ferastral 10 ml, which is equivalent to 500 mg of iron per day. Choloroquine, folic acid, rephenium hydroxynaphthoate, and tetrachlorethylene treat adults with severe iron deficiency from hookworm infestation in rural tropical Africa. Blood transfusion is indicated if the patient is dying of anaemia or is pregnant with a haemoglobin concentration 6 gm/dl. In South East Asia, mg per day prevented iron-deficiency anaemia in pregnancy. Field-trials on nutritional iron deficiency include an acidified milk formula plus ferrous sulphate for infants; biscuits with added bovine hemoglobin for children in Chile; sugar plus sodium ferric EDTA in Guatemala; salt with ferric orthophosphate and sodium acid sulphate in India; and Salt with ferrous sulphate plus sodium hexametaphosphate.


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