Burden and Impact of Plasmodium Vivax in Pregnancy: A Multi-Centre Prospective Observational Study

Citation: Bardají A, Martínez-Espinosa FE, Arévalo-Herrera M, Padilla N, Kochar S, Ome-Kaius M, et al. (2017) Burden and impact of Plasmodium vivax in pregnancy: A multi-centre prospective observational study. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(6): e0005606. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005606
Published: June 12, 2017

Abstract
Background: Despite that over 90 million pregnancies are at risk of Plasmodium vivax infection annually, little is known about the epidemiology and impact of the infection in pregnancy.
Methodology and principal findings: We undertook a health facility-based prospective observational study in pregnant women from Guatemala (GT), Colombia (CO), Brazil (BR), India (IN) and Papua New Guinea PNG). Malaria and anemia were determined during pregnancy and fetal outcomes assessed at delivery. A total of 9388 women were enrolled at antennal care (ANC), of whom 53% (4957) were followed until delivery. Prevalence of P. vivax monoinfection in maternal blood at delivery was 0.4% (20/4461) by microscopy [GT 0.1%, CO 0.5%, BR 0.1%, IN 0.2%, PNG 1.2%] and 7% (104/1488) by PCR. P. falciparum monoinfection was found in 0.5% (22/4463) of women by microscopy [GT 0%, CO 0.5%, BR 0%, IN 0%, PNG 2%]. P. vivax infection was observed in 0.4% (14/3725) of placentas examined by microscopy and in 3.7% (19/508) by PCR. P. vivax in newborn blood was detected in 0.02% (1/4302) of samples examined by microscopy [in cord blood; 0.05% (2/4040) by microscopy, and 2.6% (13/497) by PCR]. Clinical P. vivax infection was associated with increased risk of maternal anemia (Odds Ratio-OR, 5.48, [95% CI 1.83–16.41]; p = 0.009), while submicroscopic vivax infection was not associated with increased risk of moderate-severe anemia (Hb<8g/dL) (OR, 1.16, [95% CI 0.52–2.59]; p = 0.717), or low birth weight (<2500g) (OR, 0.52, [95% CI, 0.23–1.16]; p = 0.110).
Conclusions: In this multicenter study, the prevalence of P. vivax infection in pregnancy by microscopy was overall low across all endemic study sites; however, molecular methods revealed a significant number of submicroscopic infections. Clinical vivax infection in pregnancy was associated with maternal anemia, which may be deleterious for infant’s health. These results may help to guide maternal health programs in settings where vivax malaria is endemic; they also highlight the need of addressing a vulnerable population such as pregnant women while embracing malaria elimination in endemic countries.

Author summary: More than 90 million pregnancies are exposed to P. vivax infection every year. While it is well known that pregnant women have an increased risk of P. falciparum infection and disease, much less is known on the epidemiology and the impact of P. vivax in pregnancy. A health-facility based observational study was conducted in pregnant women living in five vivax endemic countries aimed to determine the burden of the infection in pregnancy and its impact on the mother and the newborn health. We found that the prevalence of P. vivax malaria in pregnant women attending the routine antenatal clinic visits was overall low across all sites, however submicroscopic infections were unexpectedly high in some areas. Pregnant women with clinical malaria experienced an increased risk of anemia, which may have a deleterious impact on infant health. These findings may be useful for guiding maternal health programs in vivax endemic settings, as well as for malaria elimination activities.

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This entry was posted in Infectious Disease, Infectious Disease Featured 2, Ob/Gyn and tagged , .

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