Study on congenitally acquired Plasmodium Falciparum infection in neonates in Muheza district, Tanzania

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Sokoine University of Agriculture


The study aimed to determine if infants diagnosed with malaria parasites in the age below three months acquire the infection congenitally from their mothers through the placenta. Placenta blood, cord blood samples and blood from infants born of mothers diagnosed with placental malaria by blood smear and presented clinical malaria below three months of age were examined by PCR amplification, PCR-RFLP and sequenced. Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum by PCR in the placenta and cord were 9.2% and 65%, respectively and 18 (19.1%) of infants born from mothers diagnosed with placental malaria developed clinical malaria below three months of age. Placental blood and cord blood sample, and placental blood and blood samples of infants below three months that shared the same band size by PCR and fragments size by PCR-RFLP were considered to be genetically related. Though sequencing results confirm differently that, sharing band size and fragments size between samples does not confirm that the parasites are genetically related. Six pairs (40%) out of 14 pairs of placental blood and cord blood samples that shared band size and fragments size, after sequencing were genetically unrelated while eight pairs (60%) were genetically related which is an indication of transplacental transmission of malaria parasites to the cord. One pair (14.3%) of sequenced placental blood samples and blood samples of infants below three months were genetically related. This showed that the malaria parasite that crossed from the placenta to the infants through the cord caused congenital malaria. Over three-fourths (79.8%) of newborn infants delivered from mothers with placental malaria were below normal gestation age and 14.9% of newborn infants had low birth weights. Some 42.5% of primigravidae were found to be parasitized with P.falciparum in the placental. A higher proportional of infants from primigravid were frequently infected with malaria while infants from multigravid observed to acquire malaria infection early in life. Placental malaria, which leads to cord malaria, observed to significantly decrease (P <0.001) as gravid increases.




Plasmodium Falciparum, Neonates, Muheza district, Tanzania