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BACKGROUND: There are no data on the burden of malaria in pregnancy (MiP) in Laos, where malaria still remains prevalent in the south. METHODS: Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2014 to assess the prevalence of MiP in Vapi District, Salavan Province, southern Laos: the first consisted of screening 204 pregnant women during pregnancies [mean (95 % CI) gestational age: 23 (22-25) weeks] living in 30 randomly selected villages in Vapi District; the second was conducted among 331 pregnant women, who delivered during the study period in Vapi and Toumlane District Hospitals and in Salavan Provincial Hospital. Peripheral and placental malaria was detected using rapid diagnostic tests (RDT), thick blood smears (TBS) and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reactions (RT-qPCR). Factors associated with low birth weight (LBW) and maternal anaemia were assessed. RESULTS: In the villages, 12/204 women (5.9 %; 95 % CI 3.1-10.0) were infected with malaria as determined by RT-qPCR: 11 were Plasmodium vivax infections and 1 was mixed Plasmodium vivax/Plasmodium falciparum infection, among which 9 were sub-microscopic (as not detected by TBS). History of malaria during current pregnancy tended to be associated with a higher risk of MiP (aIRR 3.05; 95 % CI 0.94-9.88). At delivery, two Plasmodium falciparum sub-microscopic infections (one peripheral and one placental) were detected (4.5 %; 0.6-15.5) in Vapi District. In both surveys, all infected women stated they had slept under a bed net the night before the survey, and 86 % went to the forest for food-finding 1 week before the survey in median. The majority of infections (94 %) were asymptomatic and half of them were associated with anaemia. Overall, 24 % of women had LBW newborns. Factors associated with a higher risk of LBW were tobacco use (aIRR 2.43; 95 % CI 1.64-3.60) and pre-term delivery (aIRR 3.17; 95 % CI 2.19-4.57). Factors associated with a higher risk of maternal anaemia were no iron supplementation during pregnancy, Lao Theung ethnicity and place of living. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of MiP in this population was noticeable. Most infections were asymptomatic and sub-microscopic vivax malaria, which raises the question of reliability of recommended national strategies for the screening and prevention of MiP in Laos.

Original publication




Journal article


Malar J

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Epidemiology, Laos, Low birth weight, Malaria, Molecular biology, Pregnancy, Adult, Chromatography, Affinity, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diagnostic Tests, Routine, Female, Humans, Laos, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Microscopy, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Infectious, Prevalence, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Young Adult