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Global Health
December 15, 2015

Improvements in Malaria Control Yield Complex Consequences

JAMA. 2015;314(23):2496. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.16579

Declines in malarial transmission may have negative indirect consequences for pregnant women by decreasing their immunity against the disease, which increases related risk for adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, report an international team of researchers (Mayor A et al. N Engl J Med. 2015;373[17]:1607-1617).

In areas where the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is endemic, pregnant women can develop antibodies against a variant surface antigen that mediates placental accumulation of infected erythrocytes. These antibodies protect against potentially deleterious effects of parasitic infection during pregnancy, including maternal anemia and fetal growth retardation.