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Does vitamin A supplementation protect schoolchildren from acquiring soil-transmitted helminthiasis? A randomized controlled trial
- Al-Mekhlafi, Hesham M, Anuar, Tengku Shahrul, Al-Zabedi, Ebtesam M, Al-Maktari, Mohamed T, Mahdy, Mohammed AK, Ahmed, Abdulhamid, Sallam, Atiya A, Abdullah, Wan Ariffin, Moktar, Norhayati, Surin, Johari
- Parasites & vectors 2014 v.7 no.1 pp. 367
- Ascaris, Trichuris, albendazole, ascariasis, developing countries, deworming, hookworms, indigenous species, nutrition education, poverty, protective effect, randomized clinical trials, rural areas, school children, trichuriasis, Malaysia
- BACKGROUND: Despite the intensive global efforts to control intestinal parasitic infections, the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections is still very high in many developing countries particularly among children in rural areas. METHODS: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 250 Aboriginal schoolchildren in Malaysia to investigate the effects of a single high-dose of vitamin A supplementation (200 000 IU) on STH reinfection. The effect of the supplement was assessed at 3 and 6 months after receiving interventions; after a complete 3-day deworming course of 400 mg/daily of albendazole tablets. RESULTS: Almost all children (98.6%) were infected with at least one STH species. The overall prevalence of ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm infection was 67.8%, 95.5% and 13.4%, respectively. Reinfection rates of Ascaris, Trichuris and hookworm were high; at 6 months, assessment reached 80% of the prevalence reported before treatment. There were no significant differences in the reinfection rates and intensities of STH between vitamin A supplemented-children and those who received placebo at 3 and 6 months (p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin A supplementation showed no protective effect against STH reinfection and this could be due to the high endemicity of STH in this community. Long-term interventions to reduce poverty will help significantly in reducing this continuing problem and there is no doubt that reducing intestinal parasitic infection would have a positive impact on the health, nutrition and education of these children. TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00936091 .