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J Infect Dis. 2000 Aug;182(2):558-63. Epub 2000 Jul 19.

Frequent umbilical cord-blood and maternal-blood infections with Plasmodium falciparum, P. malariae, and P. ovale in Kenya.

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Division of Geographic Medicine, Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-4983, USA.


The prevalence of malaria infection in 102 paired maternal-blood and umbilical cord-blood samples was assessed by microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in a holoendemic area in Kenya. Plasmodium falciparum single-species infection was detected in maternal peripheral blood (3.4%), whereas microscopy indicated that no Plasmodium species were in cord blood. In contrast, maternal-blood samples showed a PCR prevalence of 48% for P. falciparum, 25% for P. malariae, and 24% for P. ovale, and cord-blood samples showed a PCR prevalence of 32%, 23%, and 21%, respectively. Although mothers with mixed-species infections were more likely to have offspring infected with mixed species, the specific malaria species were discordant in paired maternal- and cord-blood samples. Triple-species infections were observed in 11 cord- and maternal-blood samples at a 5.5-fold greater frequency than expected. These findings indicate that Plasmodium species infections in cord blood are common, occur at lower densities, and may be acquired before parturition.

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