Department of Community Health, Tufts University Medical School, Departement de Biologie et Explorations Fonctionnelles, Faculte des Sciences de la Sante, Centre de Recherche sur les Meningites et les Schistosomoses, Centre de Recherche sur les Anemies Nutritionnelles, Institut Scientifique et Technique de l'Alimentation, Boston, Massachusetts, Niger
The relationship between iron status and degree of infection by Schistosoma haematobium was studied in 174 schoolchildren from Niger in an area endemic for urinary schistosomiasis. Iron deficiency was defined by a combination of three reliable indicators: a low serum ferritin level combined with a low transferrin saturation, a high erythrocyte protoporphyrin level, or both. Hematuria and proteinuria were found in 76.4% and 79.9% of the children, respectively, while 95.4% excreted eggs (geometric mean egg count of 31.5 eggs per 10 ml of urine). Anemia was observed in 59.7% of the subjects. The prevalence of iron deficiency was 47.1%. Anemia was associated with iron deficiency in 57.7% of the cases. The hemoglobin level and transferrin saturation decreased significantly when the degree of hematuria increased, while prevalence of anemia and prevalence of iron deficiency increased significantly. The hemoglobin level and the hematocrit were negatively correlated with egg count, while prevalence of anemia increased with increasing egg count. This inverse relationship between degree of infection by S. haematobium and iron status shows a deleterious consequence of urinary schistosomiasis on nutrition and hematopoietic status, which should be considered in the design of nutrition intervention programs.