Congenital malaria diagnosis is challenging due to frequently observed low parasite density infections, while their clinical relevance during early infancy is not well characterized. In Nanoro health district (Burkina Faso), we determined the prevalence of congenital malaria by real-time quantitative PCR and we assessed the performance of rapid diagnosis test (RDT) and light microscopy (LM) to detect Plasmodium falciparum infections in cord-blood samples. In addition, we examined the usefulness of P. falciparum Histidine Rich Protein2 (PfHRP2) as surrogate biomarker of infection and explored association between congenital malaria and clinical outcomes. A prevalence of congenital malaria by qPCR of 4% (16/400) was found, which increased to 10% among newborns from mothers infected at delivery. RDT and LM showed poor performances indicating limited utility for congenital malaria screening in cord blood. Because PfHRP2 detection in cord blood could be affected by transplacental passage of parasite antigens, PfHRP2 might not be used as a surrogate biomarker of congenital malaria infections. There was no evidence of a significant clinical impact of congenital malaria on infant's health from birth to 59 days of life. Case control studies including long-term follow up may provide additional understanding on the relevance of neonatal malaria infections.
- Journal Article