Context: Malaria and sexually transmitted infections/reproductive tract infections (STIs/RTIs) in pregnancy are direct and indirect causes of stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight, and maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.
Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of malaria and STI/RTI prevalence estimates among pregnant women attending antenatal care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Data sources: PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry, and reference lists were searched for studies reporting malaria, syphilis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis, or bacterial vaginosis among pregnant women attending antenatal care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Study selection: Included studies were conducted in 1990-2011 with open enrollment. Studies from South Africa, where malaria is no longer endemic, were excluded.
Data extraction: Point prevalence estimates were corrected for diagnostic precision. A random-effects model meta-analysis was applied to produce pooled prevalence estimates.
Results: A total of 171 studies met inclusion criteria, providing 307 point prevalence estimates for malaria or STIs/RTIs and including a total of 340 904 women. The pooled prevalence estimates (with 95% CIs and number of women with positive diagnosis) among studies in 1990-2011 in East and Southern Africa were as follows: syphilis, 4.5% (3.9%-5.1%; n = 8346 positive diagnoses), N gonorrhoeae, 3.7% (2.8%-4.6%; n = 626), C trachomatis, 6.9% (5.1%-8.6%; n = 350), T vaginalis, 29.1% (20.9%-37.2%; n = 5502), bacterial vaginosis, 50.8% (43.3%-58.4%; n = 4280), peripheral malaria, 32.0% (25.9%-38.0%; n = 11 688), and placental malaria, 25.8% (19.7%-31.9%; n = 1388). West and Central Africa prevalence estimates were as follows: syphilis, 3.5% (1.8%-5.2%; n = 851), N gonorrhoeae, 2.7% (1.7%-3.7%; n = 73), C trachomatis, 6.1% (4.0%-8.3%; n = 357), T vaginalis, 17.8% (12.4%-23.1%; n = 822), bacterial vaginosis, 37.6% (18.0%-57.2%; n = 1208), peripheral malaria, 38.2% (32.3%-44.1%; n = 12 242), and placental malaria, 39.9% (34.2%-45.7%; n = 4658).
Conclusion: The dual prevalence of malaria and STIs/RTIs in pregnancy among women who attend antenatal care facilities in sub-Saharan Africa is considerable, with the combined prevalence of curable STIs/RTIs being equal to, if not greater than, malaria.