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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2005 Oct;73(4):694-7.

Adverse perinatal outcomes of HIV-1-infected women in relation to malaria parasitemia in maternal and umbilical cord blood.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Malaria infection during pregnancy increases the risk of adverse birth outcomes among HIV-infected women. The role of umbilical cord parasitemia is not well characterized. We examined the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes in relation to maternal or umbilical cord Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia among 275 HIV-infected women from Tanzania, who participated in a randomized trial of zinc supplementation during pregnancy. Maternal parasitemia (> or = 1/microL) at the first antenatal visit was associated with increased risk of low birth weight < 2,500 g (adjusted relative risk [ARR] = 2.66; P = 0.01) and preterm delivery < 37 weeks (ARR = 1.87; P = 0.06). Maternal parasitemia at delivery was associated with preterm delivery (ARR = 2.27; P = 0.008), intrauterine growth retardation (ARR = 1.92; P = 0.03), and neonatal death (ARR = 3.22; P = 0.07). Cord parasitemia was associated with a large and significant increase in the risk of neonatal death (ARR = 8.75; P = 0.003). Maternal parasitemia at the first antenatal visit was strongly related to parasitemia at delivery, and the latter was associated with cord blood parasitemia. CD4 cell counts, parity, or assignment to the zinc arm (25 mg daily) were not associated with parasitemia in maternal or cord blood at delivery. Successful treatment of HIV-infected women who present to the first prenatal visit with malaria parasitemia and avoidance of reinfection are likely to decrease the risk of adverse outcomes during pregnancy and the early postpartum period. Cord blood parasitemia is a strong predictor of neonatal death. The potential effect of zinc supplementation on clinical malaria outcomes deserves future investigation.

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