oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Cord blood malaria parasitaemia in term, normal birthweight Nigerian babies : original research
An important risk factor for congenital malaria is cord blood malaria parasitaemia. We report on the effect of malaria prevention methods [intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs)] on cord blood malaria parasitaemia, as well as the effect of cord blood malaria parasitaemia on the anthropometry of term normal birthweight Nigerian babies. Thin and thick film smears were made from cord blood and peripheral maternal blood samples from mother-infant pairs at delivery. Babies who were included were those who were born at term and who had a normal birthweight. Information on the use of IPT and ITNs was obtained. Of the 231 mother-infant pairs, malaria parasitaemia was found in 60 (26%) mothers and 39 (16.9%) infants' cord blood. Maternal parasitaemia was a significant predictor of cord blood parasitaemia (p-value < 0.006). The mothers of all the babies with cord parasitaemia were infected. The mean length of the babies who had cord parasitaemia (48.84 ± 2.2 cm) was significantly less than that of the babies who did not have parasitaemia (49.70 ± 1.85 cm, p-value < 0.01). Continuous use of ITNs significantly reduced maternal parasite density. Babies who were born to mothers with parasitaemia should be screened for malaria and followed-up. Such babies may already have compromised growth, even when their birthweight is normal as they may be at risk of further growth compromise if nutrition during infancy is suboptimal. Mothers should be encouraged to use ITNs all of the time.
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