Intermittent preventive treatment with Sulphadoxine-Pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) is associated with protection against submicroscopic P. falciparum infection in pregnant women during the low transmission dry season in southwestern Cameroon: A Semi - longitudinal study

Academic Article


  • The current guidelines for malaria prevention and control during pregnancy in Africa is predicated on the prevention of infection and/or disease through intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp), insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) and effective malaria case diagnosis and management. Concerns that increasing SP resistance in some areas of SSA may have compromised IPTp-SP efficacy prompted this contemporaneous study, designed to assess the prevalence and risk factors of sub-microscopic infection in parturient women during the low transmission season in Mutengene, a rapidly growing semi-urban area in Southwest Region, Cameroon. Pregnant women originally reporting for the establishment of antenatal clinic care during the dry season were followed-up to term and their pregnancy outcomes recorded. About 2 ml of venous blood was collected for malaria diagnosis using PfHRP2/ pLDH malaria rapid diagnostic kit and light microscopy. DNA was extracted from dried blood spots by the Chelex-100 method and the Plasmodium falciparum status detected by nested PCR amplification of the 18SrRNA gene using specific predesigned primers. Of the 300 women enrolled, the proportion of malaria parasite infected as determined by microscopy, RDT and PCR was 12.9%, 16.4% and 29.4% respectively, with 39.9% overall infected with P. falciparum by microscopy and/or RDT and/or PCR and a very low-density infection, averaging 271 parasites per microliter of blood. About 25.0% (68/272) of women who were negative by microscopy were positive by PCR (submicroscopic P. falciparum infection), with primigravidae and IPTp-SP non usage identified as independent risk factors for submicroscopic P. falciparum parasitaemia while fever history (aOR = 4.83, 95% CI = 1.28-18.22, p = 0.020) was associated with risk of malaria parasite infection overall. IPTp-SP use (p = 0.007) and dosage (p = 0.005) significantly influenced whether or not the participant will be malaria parasite negative or carry submicroscopic or microscopic infection. Although Infant birthweight and APGAR score were independent of the mother's P. falciparum infection and submicroscopic status, infant's birthweight varied with the gravidity status (p = 0.001) of the mother, with significantly lower birthweight neonates born to primigravidae compared to secundigravidae (p = 0.001) and multigravidae (p = 0.003). Even in holo-endemic dry season, there exists a large proportion of pregnant women with very low density parasitaemia. IPTp-SP seems to be relevant in controlling submicroscopic P. falciparum infections, which remains common in pregnant women, and are hard to diagnose, with potentially deleterious consequences for maternal and fetal health. Future studies should be carried out in hyperendemic malaria foci where the parasitemia levels are substantially higher in order to confirm the efficacy of IPTp-SP.
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Apinjoh TO; Ntui VN; Chi HF; Moyeh MN; Toussi CT; Mayaba JM; Tangi LN; Kwi PN; Anchang-Kimbi JK; Dionne-Odom J
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 9 September