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ECU researchers make inroads into malaria research in Africa

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

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Dr Mahama Saaka conducted a double-blinded randomised clinical trial among a cohort of 374 pregnant women in the Upper West Region of Ghana. This PhD study was supervised by Dr Jacques Oosthuizen and Dr Shelley Beatty of the School of Exercise Biomedical and Health Sciences at ECU and was done with prior approval of the Ghana Health Service.

Some aspects of the research findings pertaining to malaria were published in the East African Journal of Public Health (EAJPH). Issues related to the effects of zinc supplementation on birth weight were published in the Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. The researchers found that Iron-zinc supplementation for pregnant women reduced malaria parasite densities, F (1, 20) = 4.744, p = 0.042 and prevented a significant decline in maternal iron stores of pregnant women. Adjusted geometric mean serum ferritin concentration in the iron-zinc group was significantly higher than in the control group (22.9 μg/L versus 16.9 μg/L), F (1, 156) = 6.336, p = 0.013.

The research concluded that joint iron and zinc supplementation appears to be a better option than iron-only supplementation for pregnant women in malaria-endemic areas. These results have the potential to influence global nutritional supplementation policy in malaria endemic areas.

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