Background. Helminth and malaria coinfections are common in the tropics. We investigated the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to these parasites might influence susceptibility to infections such as malaria in childhood.Methods. In a birth cohort of 2,345 mother-child pairs in Uganda, maternal helminth and malaria infection status was determined during pregnancy, and childhood malaria episodes recorded from birth to age five years. We examined associations between maternal infections and malaria in the offspring.Results. Common maternal infections were hookworm (45%), Mansonella perstans (21%), Schistosoma mansoni (18%), and Plasmodium falciparum (11%). At age 5 years, 69% of the children were still under follow-up. The incidence of malaria was 34 episodes per 100 child-years, and the mean prevalence of asymptomatic malaria at annual visits was 5.4%. Maternal hookworm and M. perstans infections were associated with an increased rate of childhood clinical malaria (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.24 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.10-1.41] and 1.20 [95% CI, 1.05-1.38], respectively). S. mansoni infection had no consistent association with childhood malaria.Conclusion. This is the first report of an association between helminth infections in pregnancy and malaria in the offspring, and indicates that helminth infections in pregnancy may increase the burden of childhood malaria morbidity.
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2013, Vol 208, p. 2007-2016