For World Malaria Day: The 5 Most Buzzworthy Things We’ve Learned About Malaria in Pregnancy This Year

Posted on

By: Samantha Lattof, Project Manager, Maternal Health Task Force, Women and Health Initiative

Happy World Malaria Day!  This year, we’re celebrating the theme “Invest in the future.  Defeat malaria.”

Over the past year, there have been many important research findings and new publications on malaria in pregnancy.  In honor of World Malaria Day, here are the MHTF’s picks for the five most “buzzworthy” publications on malaria in pregnancy from the past year:

1. Intermittent Preventive Therapy for Malaria During Pregnancy Using 2 vs 3 or More Doses of Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine and Risk of Low Birth Weight in Africa: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis by Kayentao et al.

The meta-analysis by Kayentao et al. examined seven randomized control studies on intermittent preventive treatment for the prevention of malaria in pregnant women (IPTp) living in sub-Saharan Africa.  Their findings showed that increasing the dosing of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) resulted in improved maternal and newborn health outcomes.  This research was instrumental in updating the WHO Policy Recommendation on IPTp-SP.

To learn more about this study, watch Feiko ter Kuile’s presentation at the Istanbul meeting or view his slides.

2. Malaria prevention in pregnancy, birthweight, and neonatal mortality: a meta-analysis of 32 national cross-sectional datasets in Africa by Eisele et al.

The meta-analysis by Eisele et al. found that malaria prevention in pregnancy was associated with a significant reduction in the odds of low birth weight (LBW) and neonatal mortality in first and second parities under routine program conditions across Africa—and that prevention efforts were also protective against LBW and neonatal mortality in third or higher parities. These findings support the continued effort to scale up access of both IPTp and insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) to pregnant women of all parities in areas of stable malaria transmission.

To learn more about this study, watch Thom Eisele’s presentation at the Istanbul meeting or view his slides.

3. Determinants of Use of Insecticide Treated Nets for the Prevention of Malaria in Pregnancy: Jinja, Uganda by Sangaré et al.

Using a population-based random sample, Sangaré et al. attempted to identify determinants of ITN use among 500 pregnant Ugandan women.  Three in four pregnant women owned ITNs.  Owners reported consistently using the net during pregnancy; use of ITNs was more common among Christian women than Muslim women, among women owning more than one net, and among women living in poorer households.  The results informed the Ugandan National Malaria Control Program’s efforts to increase ITN use among pregnant women.

4. Malaria in the Post-Partum Period; a Prospective Cohort Study by Boel et al.

Boel et al. conducted a cohort study examining malaria among post-partum women and matched controls living on the Thai-Myanmar border, an area of low seasonal malaria transmission.  The non-pregnant, non-post-partum controls were more likely to contract P. falciparum due to the occupational exposure of working outdoors.  Post-partum women were more likely to develop P. vivax, though the association did not hold after stratifying for history of P. vivax.  Women’s susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period did not appear to be altered, though relapse rates were high and common.  Although the three-month post-partum period appeared to protect women from exposure to infected vectors, treatment of P. vivax among pregnant and recently delivered women needs improvement.

This study is available in the MHTF-PLOS Maternal Health Collection on “Maternal Health is Women’s Health.”

5. The Malaria in Pregnancy Library: A bibliometric review by van Eijk et al.

In 2005, the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium established a free Malaria in Pregnancy Library to provide open access to published and unpublished literature on malaria in pregnancy.  Van Eijk et al. conducted a bibliometric review of the library to examine how research interests have evolved over time.  Publications most commonly discuss malaria in pregnancy as it relates to epidemiology and disease burden, and children continue to receive three-times more attention than pregnant women in the literature, though the authors note that there has been a marginal decrease in this disparity recently.

To stay up to date on the MHTF’s picks for the top maternal health research and news, subscribe to the MH Buzz.