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Immunity, Transferrin, and Survival in Kwashiorkor

Br Med J 1970; 4 doi: (Published 31 October 1970) Cite this as: Br Med J 1970;4:268
  1. H. McFarlane,
  2. S. Reddy,
  3. K. J. Adcock,
  4. H. Adeshina,
  5. A. R. Cooke,
  6. J. Akene


    In a study of 40 children with kwashiorkor, serum albumin, transferrin, and immunoglobulin levels were measured. Treatment included chloroquine, pyrimethamine, multivitamins, folic acid, iron compounds, and a high-protein diet. After two weeks the mean serum transferrin values in the children who survived and those who died were 1·30 mg./ml. and 0·33 mg./ml., respectively. Many of the children died immediately after treatment started, and it is suggested that in children with severe kwashiorkor and low serum transferrin levels any increase in free-circulating iron may result in overwhelming infection and death. Thus the appropriate time for instituting iron therapy in such patients should be reconsidered.