ABSTRACT: Background & objectives: In malaria-endemic countries, one adverse consequence of placental malaria on infants is low birth weight (LBW) caused by intra-uterine growth retardation and pre-term delivery. The effect of placental malaria on birth weight of babies was investigated in Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi, Anambra state, Nigeria. Methods: Placental blood was collected from 364 women who gave birth in NAUTH. Thin and thick placental blood smears were made and checked for the presence of malaria parasites. Plasmodium falciparum antigen rapid kit was used to confirm the presence of P. falciparum. New-borns were weighed and classified as normal birth weight (≥2500 g) or LBW (<2500 g). Analysis of variance (ANOVA), Student’s t and Pearson chi-square tests were used to compare means and percentages. Risk factors for LBW were also determined. Results: Placental malaria was found in 55.2% (n = 201) of the women. Placental malaria was associated with gravidity while age was not. In all the age groups, primigravidae and secundigravidae were mostly infected. Women with placental malaria delivered more LBW babies (32.1%) than their uninfected counterparts (5.5%), with primigravidae having more LBW babies. Similarly, weight of babies born by infected women was significantly different from that of uninfected women (p <0.0001). In multivariate analysis, placental malaria was associated with LBW (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.06-0.17, p <0.0001). Conclusion: The result suggests a high prevalence of placental malaria and its close association with LBW in pregnant women attending antenatal clinic in NAUTH. It was also found that the percentage of LBW was highest in primigravidae.
Journal of vector borne diseases 11/2012; 50(1):13-17.