Background: Little is known about the effects of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) on the health of sub-Saharan African infants. We have evaluated the safety of IPTp with mefloquine (MQ) compared to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for important infant health and developmental outcomes.
Methods and findings: In the context of a multicenter randomized controlled trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of IPTp with MQ compared to SP in pregnancy carried out in four sub-Saharan countries (Mozambique, Benin, Gabon, and Tanzania), 4,247 newborns, 2,815 born to women who received MQ and 1,432 born to women who received SP for IPTp, were followed up until 12 mo of age. Anthropometric parameters and psychomotor development were assessed at 1, 9, and 12 mo of age, and the incidence of malaria, anemia, hospital admissions, outpatient visits, and mortality were determined until 12 mo of age. No significant differences were found in the proportion of infants with stunting, underweight, wasting, and severe acute malnutrition at 1, 9, and 12 mo of age between infants born to women who were on IPTp with MQ versus SP. Except for three items evaluated at 9 mo of age, no significant differences were observed in the psychomotor development milestones assessed. Incidence of malaria, anemia, hospital admissions, outpatient visits, and mortality were similar between the two groups. Information on the outcomes at 12 mo of age was unavailable in 26% of the infants, 761 (27%) from the MQ group and 377 (26%) from the SP group. Reasons for not completing the study were death (4% of total study population), study withdrawal (6%), migration (8%), and loss to follow-up (9%).
Conclusions: No significant differences were found between IPTp with MQ and SP administered in pregnancy on infant mortality, morbidity, and nutritional outcomes. The poorer performance on certain psychomotor development milestones at 9 mo of age in children born to women in the MQ group compared to those in the SP group may deserve further studies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00811421.