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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Infectious Diseases - Pediatrics and Child Health - Public Health and Epidemiology

Infections in Infants during the First 12 Months of Life: Role of Placental Malaria and Environmental Factors
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011
Author: Agnès Le Port et al.

by Agnès Le Port, Laurence Watier, Gilles Cottrell, Smaila Ouédraogo, Célia Dechavanne, Charlotte Pierrat, Antoine Rachas, Julie Bouscaillou, Aziz Bouraima, Achille Massougbodji, Benjamin Fayomi, Anne Thiébaut, Fabrice Chandre, Florence Migot-Nabias, Yves Martin-Prevel, André Garcia, Michel Cot


The association between placental malaria (PM) and first peripheral parasitaemias in early infancy was assessed in Tori Bossito, a rural area of Benin with a careful attention on transmission factors at an individual level.


Statistical analysis was performed on 550 infants followed weekly from birth to 12 months. Malaria transmission was assessed by anopheles human landing catches every 6 weeks in 36 sampling houses and season defined by rainfall. Each child was located by GPS and assigned to the closest anopheles sampling house. Data were analysed by survival Cox models, stratified on the possession of insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) at enrolment.

Principal Findings

Among infants sleeping in a house with an ITN, PM was found to be highly associated to first malaria infections, after adjusting on season, number of anopheles, antenatal care (ANC) visits and maternal severe anaemia. Infants born from a malaria infected placenta had a 2.13 fold increased risk to present a first malaria infection than those born from a non infected placenta ([1.24–3.67], p<0.01) when sleeping in a house with an ITN. The risk to present a first malaria infection was increased by 3.2 to 6.5, according to the level of anopheles exposure (moderate or high levels, compared to the absence of anopheles).


First malaria infections in early childhood can be attributed simultaneously to both PM and high levels of exposure to infected anopheles. Protective measures as Intermittent Preventive Treatment during pregnancy (IPTp) and ITNs, targeted on both mothers and infants should be reinforced, as well as the research on new drugs and insecticides. In parallel, investigations on placental malaria have to be strengthened to better understand the mechanisms involved, and thus to protect adequately the infants high risk group.