Cerebral Malaria in African Children: Socioeconomic Risk Factors in Brazzaville, Congo

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  • Departments of Parasitology and Pediatry, University Hospital of Brazzaville, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital of Amiens, Brazzaville, Congo

Current epidemiologic and clinical research on cerebral malaria is directed towards prognostic criteria and neurologic sequelae. However, the assessment of risk factors related to the environment and the socioeconomic standard of the family is of practical as well as theoretical interest. A prospective survey was carried out in March 1990 in Brazzaville, Congo by interviewing subjects in two groups: 1) 600 households representative of the Brazzaville population and 2) 84 households with a child who had been hospitalized for cerebral malaria between January 1, 1988 and June 30, 1989 (i.e., 9–27 months prior to the interview). The mothers' knowledge and attitudes with regard to the prevention and treatment of malaria in children were assessed, as was the socioeconomic standards of the households. The group in which at least one child had been hospitalized for cerebral malaria had a lower socioeconomic standard than the control group. Other differences in this group included a greater number of offspring and a higher average number of deceased children, less chemoprophylaxis, antimalarials available less often in the household, less early treatment of fever at home, and drugs bought more often at the market. There was no significant difference between the groups with regard to using the correct dosage of chloroquine, ownership of a mosquito net, or the use of insecticides or repellents.