Iron and infection: narrative review of a major iron supplementation study in Papua New Guinea undertaken by the Department of Tropical Paediatrics, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, 1979‐1983, its aftermath and the continuing relevance of its results
Author: Oppenheimer, Stephen
Source: Paediatrics and International Child Health, Volume 32, Supplement 2, November 2012 , pp. 21-29(9)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:In 1978, I returned from a 2-year government posting as provincial paediatrician to East and West Sepik provinces of Papua New Guinea (PNG), having already enrolled on the Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM&H) course at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. I had been too late to enrol for the more relevant Diploma in Tropical Paediatrics course, but, whilst on the DTM&H course, made up for lost time by presenting myself to Professor Ralph Hendrickse in his office. I outlined my proposal for a double-blind, controlled, randomised trial of iron intervention with the aim of improving iron nutrition and decreasing susceptibility to and morbidity from infections in a cohort of infants in PNG.
My reason for suggesting such a study was the high rate of anaemia in infants there and my perception from the literature of the time that the balance of studies favoured a beneficial effect of iron supplementation on infectious susceptibility, and that iron deficiency was associated with reversible abnormalities of immune function (although it had and has since been difficult to demonstrate the severity and relevance of these in observational in-vivo studies in humans).1,2 Ralph made an on-the-spot decision, immediately offering me the opportunity to join his department on 1 January 1979 on temporary funding while I applied for (and secured) a major grant from the Wellcome Trust for this work.
Document Type: Original Article
Affiliations: Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, School of Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK
Publication date: 2012-11-01
- In 2012 Annals of Tropical Paediatrics changed its name to Paediatrics and International Child Health to reflect changes and developments in the subject area. View the issues of Annals of Tropical Paediatrics available online.
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