Intermittent preventive treatment with sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPT-SP) is currently the recommended regimen for prevention of malaria in pregnancy in endemic areas. This study sets out to evaluate the effectiveness of IPT-SP in the prevention of maternal and placental malaria in parturient mothers in Ibadan, Nigeria, where the risk of malaria is present all year round.
During a larger study evaluating the epidemiology of congenital malaria, the effect of malaria prophylaxis was examined in 983 parturient mothers. Five hundred and ninety eight mothers (60.8%) received IPT-SP, 214 (21.8%) received pyrimethamine (PYR) and 171 (17.4%) did not take any chemoprophylactic agent (NC).
The prevalence of maternal parasitaemia in the IPT-SP, PYR and NC groups was 10.4%, 15.9% and 17% respectively (p = 0.021). The prevalence of placental parasitaemia was 10.5% in the IPT-SP, 16.8% PYR and 17% NC groups, respectively (p = 0.015). The prevalence of maternal anaemia (haematocrit <30%) was 5.7% vs. 8.9% vs. 13.4% among the IPT-SP, PYR and NC groups respectively (p < 0.0001) while that of pre-term delivery (GA <37 weeks) was 10.5%, 19.2% and 25.3% among IPT-SP, PYR and NC groups respectively (p < 0.0001). Babies born to mothers in the IPT-SP, PYR and NC groups had mean birth weights of 3204 ± 487.16, 3075 ± 513.24 and 3074 ± 505.92 respectively (ρ < 0.0001). There was a trend towards a lower proportion of low birth weight babies in the IPT-SP group (p = 0.095).
IPT-SP is effective in preventing maternal and placental malaria as well as improving pregnancy outcomes among parturient women in Ibadan, Nigeria. The implementation of the recently adopted IPT-SP strategy should be pursued with vigour as it holds great promise for reducing the burden of malaria in pregnancy in Nigeria.