Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

The adverse effect of iron repletion on the course of certain infections.

Br Med J 1978; 2 doi: (Published 21 October 1978) Cite this as: Br Med J 1978;2:1113
  1. M J Murray,
  2. A B Murray,
  3. M B Murray,
  4. C J Murray


    The incidence of infections was studied in 137 iron-deficient Somali nomads, 67 of whom were treated with placebo and 71 with iron. Seven episodes of infection occurred in the placebo group and 36 in the group treated with iron; these 36 episodes included activation of pre-existing malaria, brucellosis, and tuberculosis. This difference suggested that host defence against these infections was better during iron deficiency than during iron repletion. Iron deficiency among Somali nomads may be part of an ecological compromise, permitting optimum co-survival of host and infecting agent.