Effect of low-level pathogenic helminth infection on energy metabolism in Gambian children.

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  • 1 Institute of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The aim of the present study was to determine whether an increase in resting energy expenditure (REE) contributes to the impaired nutritional status of Gambian children infected by a low level of infection with pathogenic helminths. The REE of 24 children infected with hookworm, Ascaris, Strongyloides, or Trichuris (mean +/- SEM age = 11.9 +/- 0.1 years) and eight controls without infection (mean +/- SEM age = 11.8 +/- 0.1 years) were measured by indirect calorimetry with a hood system (test A). This measurement was repeated after treatment with 400 mg of albendazole (patients) or a placebo (controls) (test B). When normalized for fat free mass, REE in test A was not different in the patients (177 +/- 2 kJ/kg x day) and in the controls (164 +/- 7 kJ/kg x day); furthermore, REE did not change significantly after treatment in the patients (173 +/- 3 kJ/kg x day) or in the controls (160 +/- 8 kJ/kg x day). There was no significant difference in the respiratory quotient between patients and controls, nor between tests A and B. It is concluded that a low level of helminth infection does not affect significantly the energy metabolism of Gambian children.

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