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Iron Supplements Do Not Increase Malaria Risk Among Children, But Safety Questioned

A study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed children in malaria-endemic areas who received iron supplements do not have an increased risk of contracting the disease, but “hospital visits for severe diarrhea episodes were significantly higher among children in Ghana given extra iron, raising questions about its safety, experts said,” Agence France-Presse reports. In the study of almost 2,000 children led by Stanley Zlotkin of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, “[c]hildren who were given a micronutrient powder (MNP) containing iron for five months showed no higher incidence of malaria than those who did not get the supplements” and “[a]ll were given insecticide-treated bed nets,” the news agency writes. “The Ghana study also raised questions about the safety of iron supplements, however, with its finding that hospital admissions were significantly higher in the iron group (156) than in the non-fortified group (128),” AFP adds, noting an accompanying editorial called for additional study into the safety of the powder used. “The WHO has recently updated its guidelines to urge that in malaria-prone areas, iron be given along with measures to prevent and treat malaria,” the news agency writes (9/4).