Document Detail

Iron and its relation to immunity and infectious disease.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  11160594     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The continuing unresolved debate over the interaction of iron and infection indicates a need for quantitative review of clinical morbidity outcomes. Iron deficiency is associated with reversible abnormalities of immune function, but it is difficult to demonstrate the severity and relevance of these in observational studies. Iron treatment has been associated with acute exacerbations of infection, in particular, malaria. Oral iron has been associated with increased rates of clinical malaria (5 of 9 studies) and increased morbidity from other infectious disease (4 of 8 studies). In most instances, therapeutic doses of oral iron were used. No studies in malarial regions showed benefits. Knowledge of local prevalence of causes of anemia including iron deficiency, seasonal malarial endemicity, protective hemoglobinopathies and age-specific immunity is essential in planning interventions. A balance must be struck in dose of oral iron and the timing of intervention with respect to age and malaria transmission. Antimalarial intervention is important. No studies of oral iron supplementation clearly show deleterious effects in nonmalarious areas. Milk fortification reduced morbidity due to respiratory disease in two very early studies in nonmalarious regions, but this was not confirmed in three later fortification studies, and better morbidity rates could be achieved by breast-feeding alone. One study in a nonmalarious area of Indonesia showed reduced infectious outcome after oral iron supplementation of anemic schoolchildren. No systematic studies report oral iron supplementation and infectious morbidity in breast-fed infants in nonmalarious regions.
S J Oppenheimer
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of nutrition     Volume:  131     ISSN:  0022-3166     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Nutr.     Publication Date:  2001 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2001-02-22     Completed Date:  2001-03-29     Revised Date:  2007-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0404243     Medline TA:  J Nutr     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  616S-633S; discussion 633S-635S     Citation Subset:  IM    
Green College, Oxford, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Administration, Oral
Antibody Formation
Bacterial Infections / etiology,  immunology
Breast Feeding
Confidence Intervals
Confounding Factors (Epidemiology)
Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
Disease Susceptibility
Endemic Diseases
Immunity, Cellular
Immunocompromised Host
Infection / epidemiology,  etiology*,  immunology
Iron / administration & dosage*,  adverse effects*,  deficiency
Lactoferrin / pharmacology,  physiology
Malaria / epidemiology,  etiology,  immunology
Models, Animal
Odds Ratio
Parasitic Diseases / etiology,  immunology
Pneumonia / epidemiology
Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / etiology,  immunology,  prevention & control
Prospective Studies
Time Factors
Transferrin / pharmacology,  physiology
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Lactoferrin; 11096-37-0/Transferrin; 7439-89-6/Iron

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