Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

Malaria in infants aged less than six months - is it an area of unmet medical need?

Umberto D’Alessandro12*, David Ubben3, Kamal Hamed4, Serign Jawo Ceesay1, Joseph Okebe1, Makie Taal5, Eugene Kaman Lama6, Moussa Keita6, Lamine Koivogui6, Alain Nahum7, Kalifa Bojang1, Aja Adam Jagne Sonko5, Honorat Francis Lalya8 and Bernard Brabin9

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Research Council Unit, PO Box 273, Banjul, The Gambia

2 Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, 2000, Antwerp, Belgium

3 Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), PO Box 1826, 20 rte de Pré-Bois, 1215, Geneva 15, Switzerland

4 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, One Health Plaza, East Hanover, NJ, 07936-01080, USA

5 Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, The Quadrangle, Banjul, The Gambia

6 Ministry of Health, BP 6623, Conakry, Guinea

7 Centre de Recherches Entomologiques de Cotonou, Cotonou, Benin

8 Centre National Hospitalier Universitaire Hubert K. Maga, Cotonou, Benin

9 Child and Reproductive Health Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L35QA, UK

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:400  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-400

Published: 2 December 2012

Abstract

Despite the protection provided by several factors, including maternal antibodies, the burden of malaria in young infants may be higher than previously thought. Infants with congenital or neonatal malaria may have a different clinical presentation than older children, and diagnosis may be confused with other neonatal diseases due to an overlap of clinical manifestations. In addition, there is little information on the use of artemisinin-based combination therapy in young infants. There is the need for a more accurate estimate of the parasite prevalence and the incidence of clinical malaria in infants under 6 months old, as well as a better characterization of risk factors, pharmacokinetic profiles, safety and efficacy of currently available anti-malarial treatments, in order to develop evidence-based treatment guidelines for this population.

Keywords:
Malaria; Neonate; Congenital; Prevalence; Parasitaemia; Artemisinin-based combination therapy