Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria, which is associated with serious adverse effects on pregnancy. The presentation of malaria during pregnancy varies according to the level of transmission in the area. Our study aimed to demonstrate the prevalence and risk factors for malaria (age, parity and gestational age) among pregnant women of eastern Sudan, which is characterized by unstable malaria transmission.
The prevalence and possible risk factors for Plasmodium falciparum malaria were investigated in 744 pregnant Sudanese women attending the antenatal clinic of New Haifa Teaching Hospital, eastern Sudan, during October 2003-April 2004.
A total 102 (13.7%) had P. falciparum malaria, 18(17.6%) of these were severe cases (jaundice and severe anaemia). Univariate and multivariate analysis showed that, age and parity were not associated with malaria. Women who attended the antenatal clinic in the third trimester were at highest risk for malaria (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.02–2.4; P < 0.05).
Women with malaria had significantly lower mean haemoglobin (9.4 g/dl, 95% CI 9.1–9.7 versus 10.7, CI 10.6–10.8, P < 0.05). A significantly lower haemoglobin was observed in those with severe falciparum malaria compared to non-severe form (8.3 g/dl, 95% CI 7.6–9.1 versus 9.4, 95% CI 9.1–9.7, P = < 0.05).
The results suggest that P. falciparum malaria is common in pregnant women attending antenatal care and that anaemia is an important complication. Preventive measures (chemoprophylaxis and insecticide-treated bednets) may be beneficial in this area for all women irrespective of age or parity.