BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy can result in placental infection with fetal implications. This study aimed at assessing placental malaria (PM) prevalence and its associated factors in a cohort of pregnant women with peripheral malaria and their offspring.
METHOD: The data were collected in the framework of a clinical trial on treatments for malaria in pregnant women . Placental malaria (PM) was diagnosed by histopathological detection of parasites and/or malaria pigment on placenta biopsies taken at delivery. Factors associated with PM were assessed using logistic regression.
RESULTS: Out of 745 biopsies examined, PM was diagnosed in 86.8 % of women. Acute, chronic and past PM were retrieved in 11 (1.5 %), 170 (22.8 %), and 466 (62.6 %) women, respectively. A modifying effect was observed in the association of gravidity or anemia at the study start with pooled PM (presence of parasites and/or malaria pigment). In women under 30, gravidity ≤ 2 was associated with an increased prevalence of pooled PM but in women aged 30 years or more, gravidity was no more associated with pooled PM (OR 6.81, 95 % CI 3.18 - 14.60; and OR 0.52, 95 % CI 0.10 - 2.76, respectively). Anemia was associated with pooled PM in women under 30 (OR 1.96, 95 % CI 1.03 - 3.72) but not in women aged 30 years or more (OR 0.68, 95 % CI 0.31 - 1.49). Similarly, the association of gravidity with past-chronic PM depended also on age. A higher prevalence of active PM was observed in women under 30 presenting with symptomatic malaria (OR 3.79, 95 % CI 1.55 - 9.27), while there was no significant increase in the prevalence of active PM (presence of parasites only) in women with symptomatic malaria when aged 30 years or more (OR 0.42, 95 % CI 0.10 - 1.75). In women with chronic PM, the prevalence of low birth weight or prematurity was the highest (31.2 %) as compared with past PM or no PM.
CONCLUSION: Despite the rapid diagnosis and efficacious treatment of peripheral infection, the prevalence of placental malaria remained high in women with P. falciparum peripheral infection in Nanoro, especially in younger women This underlines the importance of preventive measures in this specific group.