Author(s): Senga EL, Harper G, Koshy G, Kazembe PN, Brabin BJ
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Nutritional iron deficiency may limit iron availability to the malaria parasite reducing infection risk, and/or impair host immunity thereby increasing this risk. In pregnant women, there is evidence of an adverse effect with iron supplementation, but the few reported studies are strongly confounded. METHODS: A case control study in pregnant Malawian women was undertaken in Chikhwawa southern Malawi in order to describe iron status in relation to placental malaria controlling for several confounding factors. Pregnancy characteristics were obtained and a blood sample at delivery. A full blood count was performed and serum ferritin and transferrin receptor quantified by enzyme-linked immunoassay. DNA analysis was used to identify genetic polymorphisms for ABO phenotype, hemoglobin HbS, and glucose -6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Placental tissue was obtained and malaria histology classified as active, past or no malaria infection. RESULTS: 112 cases with placental malaria were identified and 110 women with no evidence of placental infection. Iron deficiency was less frequent in women with placental Plasmodium falciparum infection. In those with acute, chronic or past placental infections the odds ratio for iron deficiency was 0.4, 95\% CI 0.2-0.8, p = 0.01; for acute and chronic infections 0.4, 0.2-0.8, p = 0.006; for acute infection 0.3, 0.1-0.7, p = 0.001. The association was greater in multigravidae. CONCLUSION: Women with either acute, or acute and chronic placental malaria were less likely to have iron deficiency than women without placental malaria infection There is a priority to establish if reversing iron deficiency through iron supplementation programs either prior to or during pregnancy enhances malaria risk.
This article was published in Malar J
and referenced in Journal of Blood Disorders & Transfusion