Volume 83, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Microscopic examination of placental tissue can provide an accurate assessment of malaria infection during pregnancy. In this cross-sectional study of 193 women in Iquitos, Peru, 1.0% and 6.6% had parasites in the peripheral blood as detected by microscopy and polymerase chain reaction, respectively. However, 22% had placental malaria pigment indicating past, subclinical infections. Placental tissues with pigment from 24 cases were matched by gravidity and month of delivery to 24 controls and histopathologically examined. Cases had significantly higher number of monocytes in the intervillous space (44.7 versus 25.5; = 0.012). Pigmented monocytes in fetal vessels were present in 33.3% of cases. This study demonstrated that subclinical malarial infection occurred frequently in pregnant women and is associated with increased presence of monocytes in the placenta. Pigmented monocytes in fetal vessels suggest parasites can breach the placental barrier and enter the fetal circulation.


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  • Received : 03 Aug 2010
  • Accepted : 26 Feb 2010
  • Published online : 05 Nov 2010

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