Severe malaria in pregnant women hospitalized between 2010 and 2014 in the Department of Antioquia (Colombia)

15 Jun 2019
Tobón-Castaño A, Betancur JE


Introduction: Malaria during pregnancy has a negative impact on maternal-neonatal health, with a high risk of clinic complications and mortality. High endemic areas are specially characterized by maternal anaemia and low birth weight. The clinical spectrum is little known in low endemic areas. Objective: To clinically and epidemiologically characterize malaria episodes in hospitalized pregnant women in the Department of Antioquia (Colombia) in the period 2010-2014. Materials and methods: Retrospective, cross-sectional, descriptive study with medical records of pregnant women with P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria. The WHO severe malaria diagnostic criteria and the Colombian Guía para la atención clínica integral del paciente con malaria (guidelines for comprehensive malaria treatment) were used. Results: We analyzed 111 cases, out of which 13.5% were classified as severe malaria according to the WHO criteria. Following the Colombian Guidelines, the proportion increased to 23.4%. Identified complications included hepatic dysfunction, anaemia, acidosis, and severe thrombocytopenia. No difference in the frequency of complications by Plasmodium species was observed; 39.4% of the cases presented general danger signs, pallor and jaundice being the most frequent; 40.5% showed danger signs for pregnancy, such as persistent headache, abdominal pain, and vaginal bleeding. Conclusions: Severe malaria is a highly frequent event in pregnant women, without differences by Plasmodium species. It shows early recognizable dangers signs. Hospital under-reporting was identified in 88% of severe cases as well as a lack of laboratory tests for a more comprehensive diagnosis. A protocol for the clinical diagnosis of pregnant women with malaria is required.