Malaria Infections and Placental Blood Flow: A Doppler Ultrasound Study From a Preconception Cohort in Benin
Mondeilh A., Yovo E., Accrombessi M., Hounkonnou C., Agbota G., Atade W., Ladikpo OT., Mehoba M., Degbe A., Vianou B., Sossou D., Ndam NT., Massougbodji A., McGready R., Fievet N., Rijken MJ., Cottrell G., Briand V.
Abstract Background Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) has been associated with fetal growth restriction, the underlying pathogenic mechanisms of which remain poorly understood. Malaria in pregnancy is suspected to induce abnormalities in placental vascularization, leading to impaired placental development. Our study evaluated MIP's effect on uterine artery (UtA) and umbilical artery (UA) blood flow. Methods The analysis included 253 Beninese women followed throughout pregnancy and screened monthly for submicroscopic and microscopic malaria. Uterine artery Doppler measurement was performed once between 21 and 25 weeks’ gestation (wg), and UA Doppler measurement was performed 1–3 times from 28 wg. Linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the effect of malaria infections on UtA Doppler indicators (pulsatility index and presence of a notch), whereas a logistic mixed model was used to assess the association between malaria infections and abnormal UA Doppler (defined as Z-score ≥2 standard deviation or absent/reversed UA end-diastolic flow). Results Primigravidae represented 7.5% of the study population; 42.3% of women had at least 1 microscopic infection during pregnancy, and 29.6% had at least 1 submicroscopic infection (and no microscopic infection). Both microscopic and submicroscopic infections before Doppler measurement were associated with the presence of a notch (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2–16.3 and aOR 3.3, 95% CI = .9–11.9, respectively). No associations were found between malaria before the Doppler measurement and abnormal UA Doppler. Conclusions Malaria infections in the first half of pregnancy impair placental blood flow. This highlights the need to prevent malaria from the very beginning of pregnancy.