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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2006 Jun;93(3):225-32. Epub 2006 Apr 13.

Pregnancy outcomes in women with or without placental malaria infection.

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  • 1School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.



To assess delivery outcomes in women with placental malaria who presented at public hospitals in Kisumu, a holoendemic region in western Kenya.


A cross-sectional study using both histology and molecular biology was conducted with 90 consecutive pregnant women who presented at 3 hospitals during a 2-week period. Data collectors completed standardized questionnaires using each patient's hospital record and physical examination results, and registered birth indices such as weight, head circumference, and weight-head ratio. Malaria infection of the placenta was assessed using a molecular biology approach (for genomic differences among parasite species) as well as histology techniques. Of the 5 histologic classes of placental infection, class 1 corresponds to active infection and class 4 to past infection; class 2 and 3 to active chronic infection; and class 5 to uninfected individuals. Plasmodium species typing was determined by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the parasite's genome.


In newborns at term, low birth weight was directly associated with classes 2 and 4 of placental infection (P = 0.053 and P = 0.003, respectively), and differences in birth weight remained significant between the 5 classes (P < 0.001) even after adjusting for parity and mother's age. Plasmodium falciparum was the only detected parasite.


In Kisumu, infection with P. falciparum is an important cause of low birth weight and morbidity when it is associated with histologic classes 2 and 4 of placental infection. Moreover, polymerase chain reaction assays should be supported by ministries of health as an ancillary method of collecting data for malaria control during pregnancy and providing a baseline for future interventions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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