Prevalence of parasitic infections and associations with pregnancy complications and outcomes in northern Tanzania: a registry-based cross-sectional study

Aneth Mkunde Mahande and Michael Johnson Mahande
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Parasitic infection(s) during pregnancy have been associated with increased risk of pregnancy complications and adverse outcomes in low resource settings. However, little is known about their influence on pregnancy outcomes. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of parasitic infections and their association with pregnancy complications and adverse outcomes.


A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted using maternally-linked data from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) medical birth registry. Birth records from all women who delivered singleton infants from 2000–2011 were utilized. We excluded multiple gestations and rural medical referral for various medical complications. A total of 30,797 births were evaluated. Data analysis was performed using SPSS version 18.0. Odds ratio (ORs) with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for adverse pregnancy outcomes and complications associated with parasitic infections were estimated using multiple logistic regression models. A p-value of less than 5 % was considered statistically significant.


The most prevalent parasitic infection recorded was malaria (17.0 %), while helminths and amebiasis were infrequently recorded (0.6 % vs. 0.7 %, respectively). Women who had malaria during pregnancy had 13 % increased odds of having a preterm delivery (OR = 1.13; 95 % CI: 1.01–1. 26) as compared to those who were not infected. They also had 33 % increased odds of getting maternal anemia (OR = 1.33; 95 % CI: 1.11–1.72). Likewise, pregnant women who were recorded with helminths infections had 29 % increased odds of having maternal anemia as compared to those who had no helminths infection (OR = 1.29; 95 % CI:0.48–3.53). Moreover, pregnant women who were recorded to have amebiasis had 79 % increased odds of having a preterm delivery as compared to those who had no ameba infection (OR = 1.79; 95 % CI: 1.12–2.91).


Malaria was the prevalent parasitic infection in the studied population while helminth and ameba infections were infrequently reported. These parasitic infections were also associated with increased risk of anemia and delivery of a preterm infant. These were the only three infections/infestations which were evaluated. Our analysis revealed that malaria, helminth and ameba infections during pregnancy is dangerous and has life threatening consequences. This highlight the need to provide early diagnosis and treatment for infected women to prevent pregnancy complications and associated adverse pregnancy outcomes.