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      A Non-Inferiority, Individually Randomized Trial of Intermittent Screening and Treatment versus Intermittent Preventive Treatment in the Control of Malaria in Pregnancy

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          The efficacy of intermittent preventive treatment for malaria with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) in pregnancy is threatened in parts of Africa by the emergence and spread of resistance to SP. Intermittent screening with a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and treatment of positive women (ISTp) is an alternative approach.

          Methods and Findings

          An open, individually randomized, non-inferiority trial of IPTp-SP versus ISTp was conducted in 5,354 primi- or secundigravidae in four West African countries with a low prevalence of resistance to SP (The Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana). Women in the IPTp-SP group received SP on two or three occasions whilst women in the ISTp group were screened two or three times with a RDT and treated if positive for malaria with artemether-lumefantrine (AL). ISTp-AL was non-inferior to IPTp-SP in preventing low birth weight (LBW), anemia and placental malaria, the primary trial endpoints. The prevalence of LBW was 15.1% and 15.6% in the IPTp-SP and ISTp-AL groups respectively (OR = 1.03 [95% CI: 0.88, 1.22]). The mean hemoglobin concentration at the last clinic attendance before delivery was 10.97g/dL and 10.94g/dL in the IPTp-SP and ISTp-AL groups respectively (mean difference: -0.03 g/dL [95% CI: -0.13, +0.06]). Active malaria infection of the placenta was found in 24.5% and in 24.2% of women in the IPTp-SP and ISTp-AL groups respectively (OR = 0.95 [95% CI 0.81, 1.12]). More women in the ISTp-AL than in the IPTp-SP group presented with malaria parasitemia between routine antenatal clinics (310 vs 182 episodes, rate difference: 49.4 per 1,000 pregnancies [95% CI 30.5, 68.3], but the number of hospital admissions for malaria was similar in the two groups.


          Despite low levels of resistance to SP in the study areas, ISTp-AL performed as well as IPTp-SP. In the absence of an effective alternative medication to SP for IPTp, ISTp-AL is a potential alternative to IPTp in areas where SP resistance is high. It may also have a role in areas where malaria transmission is low and for the prevention of malaria in HIV positive women receiving cotrimoxazole prophylaxis in whom SP is contraindicated.

          Trial Registration


          Pan African Clinical trials Registry PACT201202000272122

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          Most cited references 23

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          Effect of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance on the efficacy of intermittent preventive therapy for malaria control during pregnancy: a systematic review.

          In malaria-endemic regions, strategies to control malaria during pregnancy rely on case management of malaria illness and anemia, and preventive measures such as insecticide-treated nets and intermittent preventive therapy (IPT). To determine the effect of increasing resistance to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine on the efficacy of IPT during pregnancy in Africa. The 6 databases of MEDLINE, EMBASE, SCOPUS, LILACS, Cochrane CENTRAL, and the trial register and bibliographic database of the Malaria in Pregnancy Library were searched for relevant studies regardless of language, published between 1966 and December 2006. The reference lists of all trials identified were searched and researchers were contacted about relevant data. Nine trials of IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine during pregnancy in Africa were identified and matched by year and location with treatment studies of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine among symptomatic children. Data on the efficacy of IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine on placental and peripheral malaria, birth weight, and hemoglobin level/anemia were independently abstracted by 2 investigators. Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance was defined as the proportion of total treatment failures in symptomatic children by day 14. Four trials compared 2-dose IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to case management or placebo in women during their first or second pregnancy. The IPT reduced placental malaria (relative risk [RR], 0.48; 95% CI, 0.35-0.68), low birth weight (RR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55-0.92), and anemia (RR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.81-0.99). The effect did not vary by sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance levels (range, 19%-26%). Efficacy of IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine was lower among women using insecticide-treated nets. Three trials compared 2-dose with monthly IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine during pregnancy. Among HIV-positive women in their first or second pregnancy, monthly IPT resulted in less placental malaria (RR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.18-0.64) and higher birth weight (mean difference, 112 g; 95% CI, 19-205 g) over the range of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance tested (8%-39%). Among HIV-negative women, there was no conclusive additional effect of monthly dosing (2 trials; 24% and 39% resistance). In areas in which 1 of 4 treatments with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine fail in children by day 14, the 2-dose IPT with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine regimen continues to provide substantial benefit to HIV-negative semi-immune pregnant women. However, more frequent dosing is required in HIV-positive women not using cotrimoxazole prophylaxis for opportunistic infections.
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            Intermittent preventive therapy for malaria during pregnancy using 2 vs 3 or more doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine and risk of low birth weight in Africa: systematic review and meta-analysis.

            Intermittent preventive therapy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine to control malaria during pregnancy is used in 37 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and 31 of those countries use the standard 2-dose regimen. However, 2 doses may not provide protection during the last 4 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, a pivotal period for fetal weight gain. To perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of trials to determine whether regimens containing 3 or more doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for intermittent preventive therapy during pregnancy are associated with a higher birth weight or lower risk of low birth weight (LBW) (<2500 g) than standard 2-dose regimens. ISI Web of Knowledge, EMBASE, SCOPUS, PubMed, LILACS, the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, Cochrane CENTRAL, and trial registries from their inception to December 2012, without language restriction. Eligible studies included randomized and quasi-randomized trials of intermittent preventive therapy during pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine monotherapy. Data were independently abstracted by 2 investigators. Relative risk (RR), mean differences, and 95% CIs were calculated with random-effects models. Of 241 screened studies, 7 trials of 6281 pregnancies were included. The median birth weight in the 2-dose group was 2870 g (range, 2722-3239 g) and on average 56 g higher (95% CI, 29-83 g; I2 = 0%) in the ≥3-dose group. Three or more doses were associated with fewer LBW births (RR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.69-0.94; I 2 = 0%), with a median LBW risk per 1000 women in the 2-dose group (assumed control group risk) of 167 per 1000 vs 134 per 1000 in the ≥3-dose group (absolute risk reduction, 33 per 1000 [95% CI, 10-52]; number needed to treat = 31). The association was consistent across a wide range of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine resistance (0% to 96% dihydropteroate-synthase K540E mutations). There was no evidence of small-study bias. The ≥3-dose group had less placental malaria (RR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.38-0.68; I 2 = 0%, in 6 trials, 63 vs 32 per 1000; absolute risk reduction, 31 per 1000 [95% CI, 20-39]). In primigravid plus secundigravid women, the risk of moderate to severe maternal anemia was lower in the ≥3-dose group (RR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.36-0.99; I2 = 20%; in 6 trials, 36 vs 22 per 1000; absolute risk reduction, 14 per 1000 [95% CI, 0.4-23]). There were no differences in rates of serious adverse events. Among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa, intermittent preventive therapy with 3 or more doses of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine was associated with a higher birth weight and lower risk of LBW than the standard 2-dose regimens. These data provide support for the new WHO recommendations to provide at least 3 doses of intermittent preventive therapy during pregnancy at each scheduled antenatal care visit in the second and third trimester.
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              Malaria prevention in pregnancy, birthweight, and neonatal mortality: a meta-analysis of 32 national cross-sectional datasets in Africa.

              Low birthweight is a significant risk factor for neonatal and infant death. A prominent cause of low birthweight is infection with Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy. Antimalarial intermittent preventive therapy in pregnancy (IPTp) and insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) significantly reduce the risk of low birthweight in regions of stable malaria transmission. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of malaria prevention in pregnancy (IPTp or ITNs) at preventing low birthweight and neonatal mortality under routine programme conditions in malaria endemic countries of Africa. We used a retrospective birth cohort from national cross-sectional datasets in 25 African countries from 2000-10. We used all available datasets from multiple indicator cluster surveys, demographic and health surveys, malaria indicator surveys, and AIDS indicator surveys that were publically available as of 2011. We tried to limit confounding bias through exact matching on potential confounding factors associated with both exposure to malaria prevention (ITNs or IPTp with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine) in pregnancy and birth outcomes, including local malaria transmission, neonatal tetanus vaccination, maternal age and education, and household wealth. We used a logistic regression model to test for associations between malaria prevention in pregnancy and low birthweight, and a Poisson model for the outcome of neonatal mortality. Both models incorporated the matched strata as a random effect, while accounting for additional potential confounding factors with fixed effect covariates. We analysed 32 national cross-sectional datasets. Exposure of women in their first or second pregnancy to full malaria prevention with IPTp or ITNs was significantly associated with decreased risk of neonatal mortality (protective efficacy [PE] 18%, 95% CI 4-30; incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0·820, 95% CI 0·698-0·962), compared with newborn babies of mothers with no protection, after exact matching and controlling for potential confounding factors. Compared with women with no protection, exposure of pregnant women during their first two pregnancies to full malaria prevention in pregnancy through IPTp or ITNs was significantly associated with reduced odds of low birthweight (PE 21%, 14-27; IRR 0·792, 0·732-0·857), as measured by a combination of weight and birth size perceived by the mother, after exact matching and controlling for potential confounding factors. Malaria prevention in pregnancy is associated with substantial reductions in neonatal mortality and low birthweight under routine malaria control programme conditions. Malaria control programmes should strive to achieve full protection in pregnant women by both IPTp and ITNs to maximise their benefits. Despite an attempt to mitigate bias and potential confounding by matching women on factors thought to be associated with access to malaria prevention in pregnancy and birth outcomes, some level of confounding bias possibly remains. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                10 August 2015
                : 10
                : 8
                [1 ]London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
                [2 ]School of Public Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
                [3 ]Medical Research Council Unit, Fajara, The Gambia
                [4 ]Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ouagadougou, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
                [5 ]Malaria Research and Training Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Odonto-stomatology, University of Sciences, Technics and Technologies, Bamako, Mali
                [6 ]Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
                [7 ]Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB), Department of Pathology, Hospital Clinic-Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
                [8 ]Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, United States of America
                [9 ]Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States of America
                [10 ](Institute of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology and Institute of Veterinary Disease Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [11 ]Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom
                Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: HT SC P. Magnussen FtK DC BG P. Milligan KK OD KB JW AH AO. Performed the experiments: HT SC ED RB AS MD KK EG IA FA KM SQ JW FN JO ST SM AW TA MC P. Milligan. Analyzed the data: MC HT FtK BG P. Milligan. Wrote the paper: HT SC P. Magnussen FtK DC BG P. Milligan KK OD KB JW AH AO ED RB AS MD EG IA FA KM SQ FN JO ST SM AW TA MC.


                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 4, Pages: 17
                The study was funded by the European Developing Country Clinical Trials Programme (grant number IP.2007.31080.003) and by the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium which is funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. MC is supported by a fellowship jointly funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement. No funding bodies had any role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
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                Data are available from The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Data Repository at The DOI for the data collection is



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