The Efficacy of Antimalarial Regimens Containing Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine and/or Chloroquine in Preventing Peripheral and Placental Plasmodium falciparum Infection among Pregnant Women in Malawi

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  • Malaria Branch, National Center for Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Community Health Sciences Unit, Ministry of Health, Medical College, University of Malawi, Atlanta, Georgia

To define an effective and deliverable antimalarial regimen for use during pregnancy, pregnant women at highest risk of malaria (those in their first or second pregnancy) in an area of Malawi with high transmission of chloroquine (CQ)-resistant Plasmodium falciparum were placed on CQ and/or sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP). Of 38 pregnant women who received CQ treatment followed by weekly CQ prophylaxis (CQ/CQ) for at least 45 days prior to delivery, 32% had placental malaria infection, compared with 26% of 50 pregnant women who received a treatment dose of SP followed by weekly CQ prophylaxis (SP/CQ), and only 9% of 71 pregnant women who received a two-dose SP regimen (SP/SP; given once during the second trimester and repeated at the beginning of the third trimester) (P = 0.006, by chi-square test). During the peak transmission season from April to July, 47% of the women who received CQ/CQ had placental malaria infection at delivery, as compared with 37% of the women who received SP/CQ, and 10% of women who received SP/SP (P = 0.004, by chi-square test). Among women in their first or second pregnancy, two treatment doses of SP were highly effective in decreasing the proportion of women with placental malaria infection at delivery.