Preventive treatment reduces risk of malaria in infants

June 27, 2006

A new study shows that giving 3, 4, and 9-month-old infants a single dose of a common anti-malarial drug significantly lowers their risk of contracting malaria. The research appears in the August 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Malaria is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, causing an estimated 3,000 deaths each day and at least 300 million cases of severe illness each year, particularly among infants in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior attempts at prevention that relied on frequent administration of antimalarial drugs were unaffordable in the long run and might promote drug resistance. But intermittent preventive treatment, a more focused use of antimalarials at a few specific intervals, has proved promising in earlier studies.

Clara Menendez, MD, and her colleagues in Mozambique and Spain explored the intermittent administration of the antimalarial sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to infants in their first year. Infants given SP at 3, 4, and 9 months of age were compared with those given a placebo at the same intervals.

Dr. Menendez and colleagues found that giving infants SP was safe and well tolerated, and reduced the incidence of hospital admissions by one fifth.

According to editorialists Feiko O. ter Kuile, MD, PhD, of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Richard W. Steketee, MD, MPH, of the Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa, "SP has a combination of features that may make it highly suitable for use as intermittent preventive treatment; it has relatively long half-lives, is very well tolerated in young infants, and it can be given as a single dose."

Intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine is seen by Drs. ter Kuile and Steketee to provide a satisfactory balance of safety and efficacy. There is "substantial protective efficacy of this approach," they said.
-end-
Founded in 1904, The Journal of Infectious Diseases is the premier publication in the Western Hemisphere for original research on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases; on the microbes that cause them; and on disorders of host immune mechanisms. Articles in JID include research results from microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, and related disciplines. JID is published under the auspices of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Based in Alexandria, Va., IDSA is a professional society representing about 8,000 physicians and scientists who specialize in infectious diseases. For more information, visit www.idsociety.org.

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.