Placental Plasmodium Falciparum Parasitaemia in East Sepik (Papua New Guinea) Women of Different Parity: The Apparent Absence of Acute Effects on Mother and Foetus

Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1992 Apr;86(2):95-102. doi: 10.1080/00034983.1992.11812638.


The effects of malaria were studied in a group of parturient women of East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea. Further information was gathered from a search of hospital records and interviews with village aid post orderlies. Examination of placental blood revealed a Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia rate of 41% of the primiparae, 23% in parous 2, 25% in parous 3, and 3% in multiparae greater than 3. Approximately one-half of those with placental parasitaemia had a concomitant detectable peripheral parasitaemia. Placental parasitaemias were of relatively low density, averaging 1.6%. There were no instances in the observed series of births, hospital records, or village studies of the occurrence of severe malaria in the mother or its acute effects on the foetus. Neither birthweight nor maternal or cord blood haematocrit was related to the presence or absence of placental parasitaemia. Neonatal birthweight and risk of delivering a low birthweight (less than 2.5 kg) baby was statistically associated only with maternal parity. The possible reasons for the relatively benign effect of malaria in the pregnant women of this population are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Birth Weight
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / cytology
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / blood*
  • Parity*
  • Placenta / parasitology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Parasitic / blood*