Placental Malaria and Lack of Prenatal Care in an Area of Unstable Malaria Transmission in Eastern Sudan

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Abstract

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Gadarif Hospital in eastern Sudan to determine the prevalence, and evaluate the risk factors, of placental malaria. Two hundred and thirty-six delivering women were enrolled in the study. Socio-demographic characteristics were gathered through questionnaires. Maternal hemoglobin was measured, ABO blood groups were determined, and placental histological examinations for malaria were performed. The birth weight of the newborn was also recorded. The mean (SD) maternal age was 25.5 (6.0) yr and the mean (SD) hemoglobin was 9.8 (0.9) g/dl. Placental histology showed acute malaria infections in 13 (5.5%) and chronic infections in 5 (2.1%) women; 28 (11.9%) of the placentas revealed past infection and 190 (80.5%) indicated no infection. Lack of prenatal care was significantly associated with placental infections (OR = 12.0, 95% CI = 2.3–16.2; P = 0.003). There was no significant association between placental malaria infections and maternal age, parity, and blood group. Thirty-two (13.5%) of these pregnancy outcomes resulted in low birthweight babies. There was, however, no significant association between placental malaria and low birth weight (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 0.4–4.1; P = 0.1). Thus, placental malaria infections affect pregnant women in this area of eastern Sudan regardless of their age or parity. Prenatal care should be encouraged to reduce malaria in the area. Much more research regarding malaria and pregnancy is needed.

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