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1.  Associations Between Maternal Helminth and Malaria Infections in Pregnancy and Clinical Malaria in the Offspring: A Birth Cohort in Entebbe, Uganda 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(12):2007-2016.
Background. Helminth and malaria coinfections are common in the tropics. We investigated the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to these parasites might influence susceptibility to malaria in childhood.
Methods. In a birth cohort of 2345 mother–child pairs in Uganda, maternal helminth and malaria infection status was determined during pregnancy, and childhood malaria episodes were recorded from birth to age 5 years. We examined associations between maternal infections and malaria in the offspring.
Results. Common maternal infections were hookworm (45%), Mansonella perstans (21%), Schistosoma mansoni (18%), and Plasmodium falciparum (11%). At age 5 years, 69% of the children were still under follow-up. The incidence of malaria was 34 episodes per 100 child-years, and the mean prevalence of asymptomatic malaria at annual visits was 5.4%. Maternal hookworm and M. perstans infections were associated with an increased rate of childhood clinical malaria (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10–1.41; aHR, 1.20, 95% CI, 1.05–1.38, respectively). S. mansoni infection had no consistent association with childhood malaria.
Conclusions. This is the first report of an association between helminth infections in pregnancy and malaria in the offspring and indicates that helminth infections in pregnancy may increase the burden of childhood malaria morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3836463  PMID: 23904293
malaria; helminths; coinfections; pregnancy; childhood
2.  Impact of Anthelminthic Treatment in Pregnancy and Childhood on Immunisations, Infections and Eczema in Childhood: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50325.
Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC3517620  PMID: 23236367
3.  Effect of single-dose anthelmintic treatment during pregnancy on an infant's response to immunisation and on susceptibility to infectious diseases in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9759):52-62.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
4.  Effect of praziquantel treatment of Schistosoma mansoni during pregnancy on intensity of infection and antibody responses to schistosome antigens: results of a randomised, placebo-controlled trial 
Praziquantel treatment of schistosomiasis during pregnancy was only recommended in 2002; hence the effects of treatment during pregnancy are not fully known. We have therefore evaluated the effects on infection intensity and the immunological effects of praziquantel treatment against Schistosoma mansoni during pregnancy, compared with treatment after delivery.
A nested cohort of 387 Schistosoma mansoni infected women was recruited within a larger trial of de-worming during pregnancy. Women were randomised to receive praziquantel or placebo during pregnancy. All women were treated after delivery. Infection intensity after treatment was assessed by a single Kato-Katz examination of stool samples with duplicate slides and categorised as undetected, light (1–99 eggs per gram (epg)), moderate (100–399 epg) or heavy (≥400 epg). Antibodies against S. mansoni worm and egg antigens were measured by ELISA. Results were compared between women first treated during pregnancy and women first treated after delivery.
At enrolment, 252 (65.1%) of the women had light infection (median (IQR) epg: 35 (11, 59)), 75 (19.3%) moderate (median (IQR) epg: 179(131, 227)) and 60 (15.5%) had heavy infection (median (IQR) epg: 749 (521, 1169)) with S. mansoni. At six weeks after praziquantel treatment during pregnancy S. mansoni infection was not detectable in 81.9% of the women and prevalence and intensity had decreased to 11.8% light, 4.7% moderate and 1.6% heavy a similar reduction when compared with those first treated after delivery (undetected (88.5%), light (10.6%), moderate (0.9%) and heavy (0%), p = 0.16). Parasite specific antibody levels were lower during pregnancy than after delivery. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy boosted anti-worm IgG isotypes and to a lesser extent IgE, but these boosts were less pronounced than in women whose treatment was delayed until after delivery. Praziquantel had limited effects on antibodies against egg antigens.
S mansoni antigen-specific antibody levels and praziquantel-induced boosts in antibody levels were broadly suppressed during pregnancy, but this was not associated with major reduction in the efficacy of praziquantel. Long-term implications of these findings in relation to resistance to re-infection remain to be explored.
Trial registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number for the current study: ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC2666740  PMID: 19296834
5.  Skin prick test reactivity to common allergens among women in Entebbe, Uganda 
The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of atopic sensitization, and to identify common aeroallergens associated with atopic sensitization among women in Entebbe, Uganda, and to determine risk factors for atopic sensitization among those with and without a history of asthma or eczema. A case–control study was conducted within a trial of deworming in pregnancy, approximately 2 years after the intervention. Skin prick test reactivity was assessed among 20 women with a history of asthma, 25 with history of eczema and 95 controls. Overall prevalence of reactivity was estimated by adjusting for the prevalence of asthma in the whole cohort. Overall skin prick test prevalence was: any allergen 30.7%, Blomia tropicalis 10.9%, Dermatophagoides mix 16.8%, cockroach 15.8%. The prevalence of a positive skin prick test was significantly associated with a history of asthma (70% to any allergen vs. 32%, P = 0.002) but not with a history of eczema (44% vs. 36%, P = 0.49). Women with Mansonella perstans had significantly reduced odds for atopic sensitization (adjusted odds ratio 0.14, 95% CI 0.03–0.69); women with a history of asthma were less likely to have hookworm (adjusted odds ratio 0.24, 95% CI 0.07–0.81) but this association was weaker for women with a history of eczema. [Clinical Trial No. ISRCTN32849447]
PMCID: PMC2628422  PMID: 18321545
Worms; Allergy; Atopy; Skin prick test; Mansonella perstans; Uganda
6.  Associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia in pregnancy and helminth, malaria and HIV infection in Entebbe, Uganda 
It is suggested that helminths, particularly hookworm and schistosomiasis, may be important causes of anaemia in pregnancy. We assessed the associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia (haemoglobin >8.0 g/dl and <11.2 g/dl) and helminths, malaria and HIV among 2507 otherwise healthy pregnant women at enrolment to a trial of deworming in pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda. The prevalence of anaemia was 39.7%. The prevalence of hookworm was 44.5%, Mansonella perstans 21.3%, Schistosoma mansoni 18.3%, Strongyloides 12.3%, Trichuris 9.1%, Ascaris 2.3%, asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia 10.9% and HIV 11.9%. Anaemia showed little association with the presence of any helminth, but showed a strong association with malaria (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.22, 95% CI 2.43–4.26) and HIV (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.90–3.19). There was a weak association between anaemia and increasing hookworm infection intensity. Thus, although highly prevalent, helminths showed little association with mild-to-moderate anaemia in this population, but HIV and malaria both showed a strong association. This result may relate to relatively good nutrition and low helminth infection intensity. These findings are pertinent to estimating the disease burden of helminths and other infections in pregnancy. [Clinical Trial No. ISRCTN32849447]
PMCID: PMC1950430  PMID: 17555783
Anaemia; Helminth; Pregnancy; HIV; Malaria; Uganda
7.  Anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of infantile eczema: randomised-controlled trial results 
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology  2011;22(3):305-312.
Allergy is commoner in developed than in developing countries. Chronic worm infections show inverse associations with allergy, and prenatal exposures may be critical to allergy risk.
To determine whether anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy increases the risk of allergy in infancy.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on treatment in pregnancy with albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo was conducted in Uganda, with a 2 × 2 factorial design; 2507 women were enrolled; infants’ allergy events were recorded prospectively. The main outcome was doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema.
Worms were detected in 68% of women before treatment. Doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema incidence was 10.4/100 infant years. Maternal albendazole treatment was associated with a significantly increased risk of eczema [Cox HR (95% CI), p: 1.82 (1.26–2.64), 0.002]; this effect was slightly stronger among infants whose mothers had no albendazole-susceptible worms than among infants whose mothers had such worms, although this difference was not statistically significant. Praziquantel showed no effect overall but was associated with increased risk among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni [2.65 (1.16–6.08), interaction p = 0.02]. In a sample of infants, skin prick test reactivity and allergen-specific IgE were both associated with doctor-diagnosed eczema, indicating atopic aetiology. Albendazole was also strongly associated with reported recurrent wheeze [1.58 (1.13–2.22), 0.008]; praziquantel showed no effect.
The detrimental effects of treatment suggest that exposure to maternal worm infections in utero may protect against eczema and wheeze in infancy. The results for albendazole are also consistent with a direct drug effect. Further studies are required to investigate mechanisms of these effects, possible benefits of worms or worm products in primary prevention of allergy, and the possibility that routine deworming during pregnancy may promote allergic disease in the offspring.
PMCID: PMC3130136  PMID: 21255083
albendazole; praziquantel; worms; infantile eczema; pregnancy; clinical trial
8.  Treatment with anthelminthics during pregnancy: what gains and what risks for the mother and child? 
Parasitology  2011;138(12):1499-1507.
In 1994 and 2002, respectively, the World Health Organisation proposed that treatment for hookworm and schistosomiasis could be provided during pregnancy. It was hoped that this might have benefits for maternal anaemia, fetal growth and perinatal mortality; a beneficial effect on the infant response to immunisation was also hypothesised. Three trials have now been conducted. Two have examined the effects of benzimidazoles; one (the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study) the effects of albendazole and praziquantel. All three were conducted in settings of high prevalence but low intensity helminth infection. Results suggest that, in such settings and given adequate provision of haematinics, the benefit of routine anthelminthics during pregnancy for maternal anaemia may be small; none of the other expected benefits has yet been demonstrated. The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study found a significant adverse effect of albendazole on the incidence of infantile eczema in the whole study population, and of praziquantel on the incidence of eczema among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni. Further studies are required in settings that differ in helminth species and infection intensities. Further research is required to determine whether increased rates of infantile eczema translate to long-term susceptibility to allergy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects. The risks and benefits of routine anthelminthic treatment in antenatal clinics may need to be reconsidered.
PMCID: PMC3178871  PMID: 21810307
Anthelminthic; pregnancy; albendazole; praziquantel; hookworm; Schistosoma mansoni; atopic eczema; anaemia
9.  A Description of Congenital Anomalies Among Infants in Entebbe, Uganda 
BACKGROUND: Data on congenital anomalies from developing countries of the sub-Saharan region are scarce. However, it is important to have comprehensive and reliable data on the description and prevalence of congenital anomalies to allow surveillance and the implementation of appropriate public health strategies for prevention and management. In this study, we describe the profile of congenital anomalies seen in a birth cohort in Entebbe, Uganda. METHODS: Congenital anomalies were defined as any structural defect present at birth. Pregnant women were recruited to the cohort between 2003 and 2005. Defects present at birth were recorded by the midwife at delivery and by physicians at the routine six-week postnatal visit and at illness-related visits until 1 year of life. The anomalies were classified by organ system according to the 10th version of the World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). RESULTS: There were 180 infants with a congenital anomaly among 2365 births. The most commonly affected systems were the musculoskeletal (42.7 per 1000 births) and skin (16.1 per 1000 births). The prevalence of major anomalies was 20.3 per 1000 births; 1.7 per 1000 births for cardiac anomalies and 1.3 per 1000 births for neural system anomalies. Forty (22%) of the congenital anomalies were identified at birth, 131 (73%) at the 6-week postnatal visit, and nine (5%) at illness-related visits. CONCLUSION: Congenital anomalies are common in developing countries. Establishment of comprehensive databases for surveillance would be helpful for surveillance of effects of new exposures, for prevention, management, and health care planning. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
PMCID: PMC3272344  PMID: 21770020
congenital anomalies; infants; epidemiology; Uganda; Africa
10.  Maternal HIV infection and other factors associated with growth outcomes of HIV-uninfected infants in Entebbe, Uganda 
Public Health Nutrition  2013;16(9):1548-1557.
To assess the associations between maternal HIV infection and growth outcomes of HIV-exposed but uninfected infants and to identify other predictors for poor growth among this population.
Within a trial of de-worming during pregnancy, the cohort of offspring was followed from birth. HIV status of the mothers and their children was investigated and growth data for children were obtained at age 1 year. Length-for-age, weight-for-age and weight-for-length Z-scores were calculated for each child; Z-scores <−2 were defined as stunting, underweight and wasting, respectively.
The study was conducted in Entebbe municipality and Katabi sub-county, Uganda.
The sample consisted of 1502 children aged 1 year: HIV-unexposed (n 1380) and HIV-exposed not infected (n 122).
Prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting was 14·2 %, 8·0 % and 3·9 %, respectively. There was evidence for an association between maternal HIV infection and odds of being underweight (adjusted OR = 2·32; 95 % CI 1·32, 4·09; P = 0·006) but no evidence for an association with stunting or with wasting. Young maternal age, low maternal education, low birth weight, early weaning and experiencing a higher number of episodes of malaria during infancy were independent predictors for stunting and underweight. A higher number of living children in the family was associated with wasting.
Maternal HIV infection was associated with being underweight in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. The success of programmes for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission means that an increasing number of infants will be born to HIV-infected women without acquiring HIV. Therefore, viable nutritional interventions need to be identified for this population.
PMCID: PMC3733066  PMID: 23507372
HIV exposure; Poor growth; Infancy; Uganda

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