Fetal growth and birth weight are independently reduced by malaria infection and curable sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi: A pregnancy cohort study

George Mtove, R. Matthew Chico,Mwayiwawo Madanitsa,Hellen C. Barsosio, Omari Abdul Msemo * Queen Saidi, Georgia R. Gore-Langton, Daniel T. R Minja, Crispin Mukerebe, Samwel Gesase, Victor Mwapasa, Kamija S. Phiri, Helle Hansson, James Dodd, Pascal Magnussen, Reginald A. Kavishe Franklin Mosha, Simon Kariuki, John P. A Lusingu, Julie R. Gutman, Michael Alifrangis, Feiko O. ter Kuile Christentze Schmiegelow
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: Malaria and sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections (STIs/RTIs) are highly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. We investigated the individual and combined effects of malaria and curable STIs/RTIs on fetal growth in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi.


: This study was nested within a randomized trial comparing monthly intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine versus dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine, alone or combined with azithromycin. Fetal weight gain was assessed by serial prenatal ultrasound. Malaria was assessed monthly, and Treponema pallidum, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis, Chlamydia trachomatis and bacterial vaginosis at enrolment and in the third trimester. The effect of malaria and STIs/RTIs on fetal weight/birthweight Z-scores was evaluated using mixed-effects linear regression.


: 1,435 pregnant women had fetal/birth weight assessed 3,950 times. Compared to women without malaria or STIs/RTIs (n=399), malaria-only (n=267), STIs/RTIs-only (n=410) or both (n=353) were associated with reduced fetal growth (adjusted mean difference in fetal/birth weight Z-score [95% CI]: malaria=-0.18 [-0.31,-0.04], p=0.01]; STIs/RTIs=-0.14 [-0.26,-0.03], p=0.01]; both=-0.20 [-0.33,-0.07], p=0.003). Paucigravidae experienced the greatest impact.


: Malaria and STIs/RTIs are associated with poor fetal growth especially among paucigravidae women with dual infections. Integrated antenatal interventions are needed to reduce the burden of both malaria and STIs/RTIs.