Elevated blood lead levels are associated with reduced risk of malaria in Beninese infants

Moya-Alvarez, Violeta, Mireku, Michael Osei, Ayotte, Pierre , Cot, Michel and Bodeau-Livinec, Florence (2016) Elevated blood lead levels are associated with reduced risk of malaria in Beninese infants. PLOS ONE, 11 (2). ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149049

Elevated Blood Lead Levels Are Associated with Reduced Risk of Malaria in Beninese Infants
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Elevated blood lead levels (BLL) and malaria carry an important burden of disease in West Africa. Both diseases might cause anemia and they might entail long-term consequences for the development and the health status of the child. Albeit the significant impact of malaria on lead levels described in Nigeria, no evaluation of the effect of elevated BLL on malaria risk has been investigated so far.

Materials and Methods
Between 2010 and 2012, blood lead levels of 203 Beninese infants from Allada, a semi-rural area 50km North from Cotonou, were assessed at 12 months of age. To assess lead levels, blood samples were analyzed by mass spectrometry. In parallel, clinical, microbiological and hematological data were collected. More precisely, hemoglobin, serum ferritin, CRP, vitamin B12, folate levels, and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia were assessed and stool samples were also analyzed.

At 12 months, the mean BLL of infants was 7.41 μg/dL (CI: 65.2; 83), and 128 infants (63%) had elevated blood lead levels, defined by the CDC as BLL>5 μg/dL. Lead poisoning, defined as BLL>10 μg/dL, was found in 39 infants (19%). Twenty-five infants (12.5%) had a positive blood smear at 12 months and 144 infants were anemic (71%, hemoglobin<110 g/L). Elevated blood lead levels were significantly associated with reduced risk of a positive blood smear (AOR = 0.38, P-value = 0.048) and P. falciparum parasite density (beta-estimate = -1.42, P-value = 0.03) in logistic and negative binomial regression multivariate models, respectively, adjusted on clinical and environmental indicators.

Our study shows for the first time that BLL are negatively associated with malarial risk considering other risk factors. Malaria is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality in infants under 5 years worldwide, and lead poisoning is the 6th most important contributor to the global burden of diseases measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs) according to the Institute of Health Metrics. In conclusion, due to the high prevalence of elevated BLL, health interventions should look forward to minimize the exposure to lead to better protect the population in West Africa.

Keywords:lead exposure, malaria, hemoglobin, anemia, Children
Subjects:L Social studies > L510 Health & Welfare
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B910 Environmental Health
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B220 Toxicology
B Subjects allied to Medicine > B400 Nutrition
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:29297
Deposited On:01 Nov 2017 15:37

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