Infants who were born with a low birth weight for their gestational age were approximately two times more likely to have malaria infection or clinical malaria compared with infants born at a normal weight, according to research published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
“Small birth weight for gestational age, or SGA, is commonly used as a proxy for intrauterine growth restriction,” Gino Agbota, from the University of Paris, and colleagues wrote. “SGA is estimated to have affected 32.4 million newborns in low- and middle-income countries, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 20% of this total burden.”
The researchers added that SGA has previously been linked to an increased risk for diarrheal and respiratory tract infections in high-income countries, but less is known about the effect of SGA on infectious disease development in low- and middle-income countries.
Data from 398 mother and child pairs residing in the West African nation of Benin were collected and examined from early pregnancy to age 1 year. Thick blood smears were used to actively and passively screen infants for malaria, and the researchers calculated their risk for infection and clinical malaria during the study period.
By age 6 months, infants who were considered to have SGA were two times more likely to have both malaria infection (adjusted OR = 2.16; 95% CI, 1.04-4.51) and clinical malaria (aOR = 2.33; 95% CI, 1.09-4.98) when Agbota and colleagues adjusted for the infant’s exposure to mosquitos and other confounding factors.
“This result highlights the detrimental effect of fetal conditions on infant health later in life, as stated by the Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases paradigm,” the researchers wrote. “They argue for a better follow-up after birth of SGA infants as [is] currently done for preterm babies.” – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosure : The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.