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Routine use of anthelmintics can improve anaemia.

Anaemia is a widespread public health problem that also has major socioeconomic ramifications. Anaemia affects about one-third of the global population and is more widespread in South Asia than in other regions. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anaemia and most anaemia programmes in the developing world rely on iron supplementation. But, the efficacy of iron supplementation alone is now being questioned, according to the authors of this recent paper in the British Medical Journal. These authors, from India, set out to evaluate the effect of routine administration of intestinal anthelmintic drugs on haemoglobin by making a systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

Their search identified 14 trials that could be included in their review. Data were available for 7 829 subjects, of whom 4 107 received an anthelmintic drug and 3 722 received placebo. They found that, using the World Health Organization's recommended haemoglobin cut-offs of 120 g/l in adults and 110 g/l in children, the average estimated reduction in the prevalence of anaemia ranged from 1.1% to 12.4% in adults and from 4.4% to 21.0% in children. The estimated reductions in the prevalence of anaemia increased with lower haemoglobin cut-offs used to define anaemia.

They concluded that routine administration of intestinal anthelmintic agents results in a marginal increase in haemoglobin (1.71 g/l), which could translate on a public health scale into a small (5-10%) reduction in the prevalence of anaemia in populations with a relatively high prevalence of intestinal helminths.

Gulani A et al. BMJ 2007; 334: 1095.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Abstracts
Author:Farham, Bridget
Publication:CME: Your SA Journal of CPD
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Jul 1, 2007
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