Parasitology Research

, Volume 101, Issue 4, pp 835–842 | Cite as

Congenital Plasmodium falciparum malaria in sub-Saharan Africa: a rarity or frequent occurrence?



It is still debatable whether congenital Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a rarity or a frequent occurrence in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of this report is to review scientific information and findings from investigations conducted in sub-Saharan Africa on the occurrence of congenital malaria to highlight the need for development of appropriate public health policy on prevention, care, treatment, and support activities. Studies conducted in sub-Saharan Africa within the last two decades (1986 to 2006) that investigated congenital or transplacental malaria were identified using the Medline–Entrez Pubmed search and systematically reviewed. References from selected publications obtained from a Google search were also used to identify additional relevant literature for the review. Five of the studies reviewed indicated that congenital malaria is a rare event in sub-Saharan Africa with prevalence ranging from 0% to 0.7% although maternal malaria parasitemia rates of between 24.8 and 54.4% were obtained. Nine other studies noted that congenital malaria was not uncommon, with prevalence reaching up to 37%. These studies also noted high frequency of neonatal peripheral parasitemia ranging from 4.0 to 46.7%. Congenital malaria should be suspected and investigated in babies whose mothers are parasitemic, particularly if the babies are febrile.


Congenital malaria Plasmodium falciparum sub-Saharan Africa 


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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Microbiology, Faculty of Clinical MedicineEbonyi State UniversityAbakalikiNigeria

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