Background: Malaria remains a burden for pregnant women and the under 5. Intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp) for malaria with sulfadoxine - pyrimethamine (SP) has since replaced prophylaxis and legislation has been reinforced in the area of insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITNs) in Cameroon. Clinical malaria despite all these measures remains a problem. We compared the socio-obstetrical characteristics of women who developed clinical malaria and those who did not though in the same regimen.
Methods: A 5 - year nested cohort study (2007 - 2011 inclusive) at the tertiary level hospitals in Yaounde. Pregnant women who willingly accepted to participate in the study were enrolled at booking and three doses of SP were administered between 18 - 20 weeks of gestation, between 26-28 weeks and between 32 - 34 weeks. Those who developed clinical malaria were considered as cases and were compared for socio - obstetrical characteristics with those who did not. Venous blood was drawn from the women in both arms for parasite density estimation and identification and all the clinical cases were treated conventionally.
Results: Each arm had 166 cases and many women who developed clinical malaria were between 15 and 19 years (OR 5.5, 95% CI 3.9 - 5.3, p < 0.001). They were of low gravidity (OR 6.5, 95% CI 3.8 - 11.3, p < 0.001) as well as low parity (OR 4.6, 95% CI 2.7 - 7.9, p < 0.001). The cases were single women (OR 4.58, 95% CI 2.54 - 8.26, p < 0.001) and had attained only primary level of education (OR 4.6, 95% CI 2.8 - 7.9, p < 0.001). Gestational ages were between 20 to 30 weeks during clinical malaria (OR 6.8, 95% CI 4.1 - 11.7, p < 0.001). The time between the first and second dose of SP was longer than ten weeks in the cases (OR 5.5, 95% CI 3.2 - 9.3, p < 0.001) and parasite density was higher also among the cases (OR 6.9, 95% CI 5.9 - 12.1, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Long spacing between the first and second dose of SP seemed to be responsible for clinical malaria in the cases.