Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Both iron deficiency and malaria are common in much of sub-Saharan Africa, and the interaction between these conditions is complex. To investigate the association between nutritional iron status, immunoglobulins, and clinical Plasmodium falciparum malaria, we determined the incidence of malaria in a cohort of children between the ages of 8 months and 8 years who were living on the Kenyan coast. Biochemical iron status and malaria-specific immune responses were determined during 2 cross-sectional surveys. We found that the incidence of clinical malaria was significantly lower among iron-deficient children (incidence-rate ratio [IRR], 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51-0.99; P<.05), that the incidence of malaria was significantly associated with plasma ferritin concentration (IRR for log ferritin concentration, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.01-2.17; P<.05), and that iron status was strongly associated with a range of malaria-specific immunoglobulins. We conclude that iron deficiency was associated with protection from mild clinical malaria in our cohort of children in coastal Kenya and discuss possible mechanisms for this protection.

Original publication




Journal article


J Infect Dis

Publication Date





439 - 447


Anemia, Iron-Deficiency, Animals, Antibody Specificity, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Ferritins, Humans, Immunoglobulin E, Immunoglobulin G, Incidence, Infant, Iron, Kenya, Malaria, Falciparum, Nutritional Status, Plasmodium falciparum