Background: Malaria is endemic in many states of India. Though there are reports of maternal and congenital malaria from endemic areas, however, there remains a paucity of data from hilly terrains. The present study evaluated the prevalence, clinical and microbiological spectrum of maternal and congenital malaria at a tertiary health care facility in Northern India over a period of 18 months.
Methods: In this observational study, mothers along with their newborns were evaluated for malaria by maternal, placental, and cord blood smear examination and rapid point-of-care diagnostic serological tests. Positive cases were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. Mother-newborn duos were followed up till discharge from the hospital.
Results: A total of 843 mothers delivered during the study period and were screened along with their newborns and placentae. A total of Ten (1.18%) mothers had evidence of malarial parasitemia (Plasmodium vivax, n=7 and Pl. falciparum, n=3), however, none of the placental and cord blood samples were positive for malaria. Overall, 127 (15.1%) neonates required admission in neonatal intensive care unit for various morbidities. Incidence of small for gestational age (SGA) was high (n=210; 24.9%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated maternal malaria to be an independent contributor for SGA [Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval), 10.7 (2.06 - 49.72)]. However, only 2% variance of SGA could be explained by maternal malaria alone.
Conclusion: We report an encouragingly lower incidence of maternal malaria in mothers attending for delivery and a ‘Zero’ incidence for placental and congenital malaria during the study period as compared to national data (upto 7.4% in non-immune mothers), although maternal malaria could be a causative factor for SGA.