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Int J Epidemiol. 1991 Mar;20(1):276-83.

An assessment of low birthweight risk in primiparae as an indicator of malaria control in pregnancy.

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  • 1Department of Tropical Paediatrics and International Child Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK.


Malaria is an important environmental factor which reduces fetal growth in primiparae more than multiparae living under holoendemic conditions for malaria. This relates to greater susceptibility to malaria infection in first pregnancies. The relative risk for low birthweight (less than 2500 g) associated with primiparity is increased in malaria-endemic areas and significantly correlates with the malaria parasite rate at delivery in primiparae. Because of this association, the relative risk is proposed as an indicator to assess malaria control in pregnant women as well as in the community. The sensitivity and specificity of the relative risk for low birthweight in primiparae are calculated for 13 malarious and 15 non-malarious populations. The highest sensitivity and specificity is achieved at a relative risk of 1.7. Social and environmental variables which could alter the sensitivity of the estimate are discussed. Estimates of the population-attributable risk per cent of low birthweight due to malaria in primiparae are calculated and vary between 10% and 40% in endemic areas. The method is applied to observations from malaria-intervention studies in pregnancy in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and appears sensitive in these prospective studies to changes in malaria prevalence. Calculation of these estimates is straightforward and their use to assess malaria control measures in areas of high transmission has not been suggested previously, it could have wide epidemiological application and requires further field evaluation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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