New treatment could tackle preventable causes of death for newborns in sub-Saharan Africa

May 15, 2012

Clinical trials are urgently needed to test a new treatment that could jointly tackle leading causes of death for babies in sub-Saharan Africa, according to researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association today suggests that a considerable number of accessing antenatal care in the region have and sexually transmitted/reproductive tract infections (STIs/RTIs).

An estimated 25 million pregnancies are at risk of malaria each year in . The study shows that nearly 4 of every 10 women at health facilities have a malaria infection. An even higher number of women, if added together, are infected with the STIs/RTIs syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomononiasis and bacterial vaginosis.

There are 880,000 stillbirths and 1.2 million newborn deaths each year in sub-Saharan Africa, many of which are linked to maternal infection. For unborn , malaria and STIs/RTIs increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm delivery; they also contribute to low birth-weight, the leading cause of neonatal mortality.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine are now conducting of combined anti-malarial and antibiotic treatment that could prevent and treat malaria and STIs/RTIs at the same time.

Lead author Matthew Chico, an epidemiologist and Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "We reviewed evidence over a twenty year period to calculate prevalence estimates of STIs/RTIs and malaria. This makes it clear that a combined treatment could save a great many lives.

"We are now conducting trials of azithromycin-based combination treatment to give all pregnant women preventative medication that will clear placental malaria infection, protect against re-infection in between antenatal visits, and cure syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and, to a lesser extent, trichomononiasis, the most common STI in the world. If given in early pregnancy, combined treatment may also reduce bacterial vaginosis, which affects half of all pregnant women in the region."

The researchers also hope that combined treatment could overcome the problem of wide-spread anti-malarial drug resistance with the current treatment given to pregnant women.

"The current WHO recommended treatment to prevent malaria in pregnancy is failing due to drug resistance," Matthew Chico said. "By switching to azithromycin-based combination to reduce the dual burden of malaria and STIs/RTIs in pregnancy, we could have a transformative effect on maternal, fetal and neonatal health."

Explore further: Malaria during pregnancy: New study assesses risks during first trimester

Related Stories

Malaria during pregnancy: New study assesses risks during first trimester

December 13, 2011
The largest ever study to assess the effects of malaria and its treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy has shown that the disease significantly increases the risk of miscarriage, but that treating with antimalarial ...

Ultrasound study provides first direct evidence of effect of malaria on fetal growth

February 9, 2012
A study of almost 3,800 pregnancies has provided the most accurate and direct evidence to date that malaria infection reduces early foetal growth. Low birth weight is the most important risk factor for neonatal mortality ...

Malaria immunity in the spotlight

February 23, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Mothers who are treated for malaria may pass on lower levels of natural immunity to their young, animal studies show.

Recommended for you

Mind-body therapies immediately reduce unmanageable pain in hospital patients

July 25, 2017
Mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.