Permethrin-treated baby wraps for the prevention of malaria: results of a randomized controlled pilot study in rural Uganda

Malar J. 2022 Feb 23;21(1):63. doi: 10.1186/s12936-022-04086-w.


Background: Progress against malaria has stalled and may even be slipping backwards in high-burden countries. This is due to a range of factors including insecticide resistance and mosquito feeding behaviours that limit contact with widely-employed interventions including long-lasting insecticidal nets and indoor-residual spraying. Thus, further innovations in malaria control are urgently needed.

Methods: The pilot was a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study of permethrin-treated baby wraps-known locally as lesus-in children 6-18 months of age at a single site in rural western Uganda. Fifty mother-infant pairs were assigned to permethrin-treated or untreated lesus in a 1:1 allocation. Participants and clinical staff were blinded to group assignments through use of sham treatment and re-treatment of lesus. Participants attended scheduled clinic visits every 2 weeks for a total 12 weeks. The primary outcome of interest was the safety of the intervention, assessed as changes in the frequency of use, rates of discontinuation, and incidence of adverse events, such as skin rash. Secondary outcomes included acceptability and feasibility of the intervention as measured through participant satisfaction and completion of study activities, respectively.

Results: Overall, rates of retention and participation were relatively high with 86.0% (43 of 50) of participants completing all scheduled visits, including 18 (75.0%) and 25 (96.2%) in the intervention and control arms respectively. By the conclusion of the 12-week follow-up period, one adverse event (0.35 events per 100 person-weeks, one-sided 95% CI 0.0-1.65) was reported. Satisfaction with the lesu was high in both groups. In each study arm, there were five incident RDT positive results, but the only PCR-positive results were observed in the control group (n = 2).

Conclusions: Permethrin-treated baby wraps were well-tolerated and broadly acceptable. Adverse events were infrequent and mild. These findings support future trials seeking to determine the efficacy of treated wraps to prevent P. falciparum malaria infection in young children as a complementary tool to existing household-based interventions.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT04102592, Registered 25 September 2019. Available at:

Keywords: Insecticide-treated clothing; Malaria; Permethrin; Plasmodium; Prevention.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insecticide-Treated Bednets*
  • Insecticides* / therapeutic use
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Mosquito Control / methods
  • Permethrin
  • Pilot Projects
  • Uganda


  • Insecticides
  • Permethrin

Associated data