Volume 97, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40% of children in low-income countries are anemic. Therefore, iron supplements are recommended by WHO in areas with high anemia rates. However, some studies have set into question the benefits of iron supplementation in malaria-endemic regions. In Benin, a west African country with high prevalence of anemia and malaria, no iron supplements are given systematically to infants so far despite the WHO recommendations. In this context, we wanted to investigate the effect of iron levels during the first year of life on malarial risk in Benin considering complementary risk factors. We followed 400 women and their offspring between January 2010 and June 2012 in Allada (Benin). Environmental, obstetric, and numerous clinical, maternal, and infant risk factors were considered. In multilevel models, high iron levels were significantly associated with the risk of a positive blood smear (adjusted odds ratio = 2.90, < 0.001) and parasitemia (beta estimate = 0.38, < 0.001). Infants with iron levels in the lowest quartile were less likely to have a positive blood smear ( < 0.001), and the risk increased with higher iron levels. Our results appeal for additional evaluation of the effect of different doses of iron supplements on the infant health status, including malaria incidence. Thus, the health status of infants should be compared between cohorts where iron is given either for prevention or anemia treatment, to better understand the effect of iron supplements on infant health.


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  • Received : 01 Jan 2016
  • Accepted : 29 Nov 2016
  • Published online : 19 Jun 2017

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