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Imported malaria in pregnancy in Madrid

Beatriz C Jiménez1*, Pedro Cuadros-Tito2, Jose M Ruiz-Giardin1, Gerardo Rojo-Marcos2, Juan Cuadros-González3, Eduardo Canalejo1, Noemi Cabello1, Juan V San Martín1, Ana M Barrios1, Juan Hinojosa1 and Laura Molina4

Author Affiliations

1 Internal Medicine Department, University Hospital Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain

2 Internal Medicine Department, University Hospital Príncipe de Asturias, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

3 Clinical Microbiology and Parasitology Department, University Hospital Príncipe de Asturias, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

4 Clinical Laboratory Department, Microbiology Unit, University Hospital Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:112  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-112

Published: 11 April 2012



Malaria in pregnancy is associated with maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality in endemic areas, but information on imported cases to non-endemic areas is scarce.

The aim of this study was to describe the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of malaria in pregnancy in two general hospitals in Madrid, Spain.


Retrospective descriptive study of laboratory-confirmed malaria in pregnant women at the Fuenlabrada University Hospital and the Príncipe de Asturias University Hospital, in Madrid, over a six- and 11-year period, respectively. Relevant epidemiological, clinical and laboratory data was obtained from medical records.


There were 19 pregnant women among 346 malaria cases (5.4%). The average age was 27 years. The gestational age (trimester) was: 53% 3rd, 31% 1st, 16% 2nd. All but one were multigravidae. Three were HIV positive. All were sub-Saharan immigrants: two were recently arrived immigrants and seventeen (89%) had visited friends and relatives. None had taken prophylaxis nor seeked pre-travel advice. Presentation: 16 symptomatic patients (fever in fourteen, asthenia in two), three asymptomatic. Median delay in diagnosis: 7.5 days. Laboratory tests: anaemia (cut off Hb level 11 g/dl) 78.9% (mild 31.6%, moderate 31.6%, severe 15.8%) thrombocytopaenia 73.7%, hypoglycaemia 10.5%. All cases were due to Plasmodium falciparum, one case of hyperparasitaemia. Quinine + clindamycin prescribed in 84%. Outcomes: no severe maternal complications or deaths, two abortions, fifteen term pregnancies, no low-birth-weight newborns, two patients were lost to follow-up.


Though cases of malaria in pregnancy are uncommon, a most at risk group is clearly defined: young sub-Saharan mothers visiting friends and relatives without pre-travel counselling and recently-arrived immigrants. The most common adverse maternal and foetal effects were anaemia and stillbirth. Given that presentation can be asymptomatic, malaria should always be considered in patients with unexplained anaemia arriving from endemic areas. These findings could help Maternal Health programme planners and implementers to target preventive interventions in the immigrant population and should create awareness among clinicians.

Malaria; Imported; Pregnancy; Immigration