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Quantification of the Burden and Consequences of Pregnancy-Associated Malaria in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Authors: Steve M. Taylor, Anna Maria van Eijk, Feiko O. ter Kuile, et al.
Source: Journal of Infectious Diseases , (2011) 204 (11): 1762-1771. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir625
Topic(s): Malaria
Country: Africa
  Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Published: 2011
Abstract: Abstract Background. Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) produces poor birth outcomes, but its prevalence is commonly estimated in convenience samples. Methods. We assessed the prevalence of malaria using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and estimated the consequences of infection on birth outcomes, using specimens from a nationally representative sample of 4570 women of childbearing age (WOCBA) responding to the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Results. Overall, 31.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 29.2–33.1) of WOCBA were parasitemic, which was significantly more common in pregnant (37.2% [31.0–43.5]) than nonpregnant women (30.4% [CI, 28.4–32.5], prevalence ratio [PR] 1.22 [1.02–1.47]). Plasmodium falciparum was highest among pregnant women (36.6% vs 28.8%, PR 1.27 [1.05–1.53]). By contrast, P malariae was less common in pregnant (0.6%) compared with nonpregnant women (2.7%, PR 0.23 [0.09–0.56]). Extrapolation of the prevalence estimate to the population at risk of malaria in DRC suggests 1.015 million births are affected by P falciparum infection annually, and that adherence to preventive measures could prevent up to 549 000 episodes of pregnancy-associated malaria and 47 000 low-birth-weight births. Conclusions. Pregnancy-associated malaria and its consequences are highly prevalent in the DRC. Increasing the uptake of malaria preventive measures represents a significant opportunity to improve birth outcomes and neonatal health.