Methods: The study was conducted in the rural maternity hospital of Thiadiaye, Senegal, where malaria is seasonal. Sixty-nine P. falciparum isolates from infected women were collected at delivery. These women were part of a cohort study; they were followed from their first antenatal visit and advised to take chloroquine prophylaxis. For each woman, the earliest P. falciparum-infected blood sample was also used. A control group of 49 non-pregnant individuals with asymptomatic P. falciparum infection was enrolled.
Results: During pregnancy, prevalence of T76 mutant parasites was higher than in the 49 non-pregnant controls (P <0.001). Among pregnant women, this rate was highest at delivery (P=0.06), and tended to be higher in women who had taken chloroquine prophylaxis, as assessed in urine samples (P=0.08).
Conclusions: Chloroquine prophylaxis is responsible for increased drug consumption and increased drug pressure that may lead to the selection of drug-resistant parasites. This is the first report showing that P. falciparum-infected pregnant women harbour pfcrt T76 mutant parasites more often than non-pregnant individuals, and that the prevalence of this mutation is higher at term than earlier during pregnancy.
Keywords: malaria , pregnancy , drug resistance