Professor Rose McGready

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: Malaria, pregnancy, Treatment, Obstetrics in resources limited settings, Infant neurodevelopment, teaching and learning with local health workers, skilled birth attendant, nutrition and infection in pregnancy
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Rosie's work concentrates on the treatment and epidemiology of uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy. This has involved the prospective follow-up of women at antenatal clinics treated for multidrug resistant P.falciparum and/or P.vivax malaria. Encouraging all women to deliver with trained midwives in SMRU delivery rooms, rather than at home, has established the outcomes of these pregnancies with certainty. The efficacy and safety of artemisinin derivatives (principally artesunate) and the first study on a fixed artemisinin based combination treatment in pregnancy came from the obstetric department at SMRU. Pharmacokinetic studies conducted at SMRU have formed the major body of evidence that suggest antimalarial doses in pregnancy need to be increased. Work on immunity and pathophysiology of malaria in pregnancy is in association with Billie Davison, Patrick Duffy's team (Seattle) and Jame Beeson's team (Melbourne).

Collaborative studies with Assoc. Professor Lilly Dubowitz have validated tools that can be applied in resource limited settings for neurological and developmental examination of newborns and infants. Methods to assist gestational age assessment in a population with limited literacy are also under comparative analysis with ultrasound dating scans. Antenatal care at SMRU has aimed to provide comprehensive care for pregnant women including PMTCT HIV, micronutrient supplementation, diagnosis and treatment of obstetric and medical problems, early newborn care and family planning services. Staff development has been an integral component of this process.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Julie A Simpson Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics Melbourne University Australia
Patrick Duffy Seattle Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) United States
Billie Davidson (formerly) Divisioin of Comparative Pathology Tulane National Primate United States
James Beeson Walter and Eliza Hall Institute Melbourne Australia
Ing H, Fellmeth G, White J, Stein A, Simpson JA, McGready R. 2017. Validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) on the Thai-Myanmar border. Trop Doct, 47 (4), pp. 339-347. | Show Abstract | Read more

Postnatal depression is common and may have severe consequences for women and their children. Locally validated screening tools are required to identify at-risk women in marginalised populations. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is one of the most frequently used tools globally. This cross-sectional study assessed the validity and acceptability of the EPDS in Karen and Burmese among postpartum migrant and refugee women on the Thai-Myanmar border. The EPDS was administered to participants and results compared with a diagnostic interview. Local staff provided feedback on the acceptability of the EPDS through a focus group discussion. Results from 670 women showed high accuracy and reasonable internal consistency of the EPDS. However, acceptability to local staff was low, limiting the utility of the EPDS in this setting despite its good psychometrics. Further work is required to identify a tool that is acceptable and sensitive to cultural manifestations of depression in this vulnerable population.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Scoullar MJL, McGready R, Fowkes FJI. 2017. Quantification of the association between malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health, 5 (11), pp. e1101-e1112. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: 2·6 million stillbirths occur annually worldwide. The association between malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth has yet to be comprehensively quantified. We aimed to quantify the association between malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth, and to assess the influence of malaria endemicity on the association. METHODS: We did a systematic review of the association between confirmed malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth. We included population-based cross-sectional, cohort, or case-control studies (in which cases were stillbirths or perinatal deaths), and randomised controlled trials of malaria in pregnancy interventions, identified before Feb 28, 2017. We excluded studies in which malaria in pregnancy was not confirmed by PCR, light microscopy, rapid diagnostic test, or histology. The primary outcome was stillbirth. We pooled estimates of the association between malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth using meta-analysis. We used meta-regression to assess the influence of endemicity. The study protocol is registered with PROSPERO, protocol number CRD42016038742. FINDINGS: We included 59 studies of 995 records identified, consisting of 141 415 women and 3387 stillbirths. Plasmodium falciparum malaria detected at delivery in peripheral samples increased the odds of stillbirth (odds ratio [OR] 1·81 [95% CI 1·42-2·30]; I2=26·1%; 34 estimates), as did P falciparum detected in placental samples (OR 1·95 [1·48-2·57]; I2=33·6%; 31 estimates). P falciparum malaria detected and treated during pregnancy was also associated with stillbirth, but to a lesser extent (OR 1·47 [95% CI 1·13-1·92]; 19 estimates). Plasmodium vivax malaria increased the odds of stillbirth when detected at delivery (2·81 [0·77-10·22]; three estimates), but not when detected and treated during pregnancy (1·09 [0·76-1·57]; four estimates). The association between P falciparum malaria in pregnancy and stillbirth was two times greater in areas of low-to-intermediate endemicity than in areas of high endemicity (ratio of ORs 1·96 [95% CI 1·34-2·89]). Assuming all women with malaria are still parasitaemic at delivery, an estimated 20% of the 1 059 700 stillbirths in malaria-endemic sub-Saharan Africa are attributed to P falciparum malaria in pregnancy; the population attributable fraction decreases to 12%, assuming all women with malaria are treated during pregnancy. INTERPRETATION: P falciparum and P vivax malaria in pregnancy both increase stillbirth risk. The risk of malaria-associated stillbirth is likely to increase as endemicity declines. There is a pressing need for context-appropriate, evidence-based interventions for malaria in pregnancy in low-endemicity settings. FUNDING: Australian Commonwealth Government, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Research Council.

Oseni Z, Than HH, Kolakowska E, Chalmers L, Hanboonkunupakarn B, McGready R. 2017. Video-based feedback as a method for training rural healthcare workers to manage medical emergencies: a pilot study. BMC Med Educ, 17 (1), pp. 149. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Video-based feedback has been shown to aid knowledge retention, skills learning and improve team functionality. We explored the use of video-based feedback and low fidelity simulation for training rural healthcare workers along the Thailand-Myanmar border and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to manage medical emergencies effectively. METHODS: Twenty-four study participants were recruited from three Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinics along the Thailand-Myanmar border and eight participants from Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, PNG. The teams were recorded on video managing a simulated medical emergency scenario and the video was used to aid feedback and assess performance using Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) scoring and Team Emergency Assessment Measure (TEAM) questionnaire. The process was repeated post-feedback at both sites and at 6 weeks at the Thailand-Myanmar border site. Thailand-Myanmar border participants' individual confidence levels and baseline knowledge (using OSCE scoring) were assessed before team assessment and feedback at week 1 and repeated post-feedback and at 6 weeks. Focus group discussions (FGD) were held at each Thailand-Myanmar border clinic at week 1 (8 participants at each clinic). RESULTS: Individual paired tests of OSCE scores showed significant improvement post-feedback at week 1 (p < 0.001) and week 6 (p < 0.001) compared to baseline OSCE scores. There was a trend for increased team OSCE scores compared to baseline at week 1 (p = 0.068) and week 6 (p = 0.109) although not significant. Thailand-Myanmar border TEAM scores demonstrated improvement post-feedback mainly in leadership, teamwork and task management which was sustained up to week 6. PNG showed an improvement mainly in teamwork and task management. The global rating of the teams' non-technical performance at both sites improved post feedback and at week 6 on the Thailand-Myanmar border site. Self-rated confidence scores by Thailand-Myanmar border participants increased significantly from baseline following training at week 1 (p = 0.020), and while higher at 6 weeks follow up than at baseline, this was not significant (p = 0.471). The FGD revealed majority of participants felt that watching the video recording of their performance and the video-based feedback contributed most to their learning. CONCLUSION: Video-assisted feedback resulted in an improvement in clinical knowledge, confidence and quality of teamwork for managing medical emergencies in two low resource medical facilities in South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Devine A, Harvey R, Min AM, Gilder MET, Paw MK, Kang J, Watts I, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. Strategies for the prevention of perinatal hepatitis B transmission in a marginalized population on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a cost-effectiveness analysis. BMC Infect Dis, 17 (1), pp. 552. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Data on the cost effectiveness of hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening and vaccination strategies for prevention of vertical transmission of HBV in resource limited settings is sparse. METHODS: A decision tree model of HBV prevention strategies utilised data from a cohort of 7071 pregnant women on the Thailand-Myanmar border using a provider perspective. All options included universal HBV vaccination for newborns in three strategies: (1) universal vaccination alone; (2) universal vaccination with screening of women during antenatal visits with rapid diagnostic test (RDT) plus HBV immune globulin (HBIG) administration to newborns of HBV surface antigen positive women; and (3) universal vaccination with screening of women during antenatal visits plus HBIG administration to newborns of women testing HBV e antigen positive by confirmatory test. At the time of the study, the HBIG after confirmatory test strategy was used. The costs in United States Dollars (US$), infections averted and incremental cost effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated and sensitivity analyses were conducted. A willingness to pay threshold of US$1200 was used. RESULTS: The universal HBV vaccination was the least costly option at US$4.33 per woman attending the clinic. The HBIG after (RDT) strategy had an ICER of US$716.78 per infection averted. The HBIG after confirmatory test strategy was not cost-effective due to extended dominance. The one-way sensitivity analysis showed that while the transmission parameters and cost of HBIG had the biggest impact on outcomes, the HBIG after confirmatory test only became a cost-effective option when a low test cost was used or a high HBIG cost was used. The probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed that HBIG after RDT had an 87% likelihood of being cost-effective as compared to vaccination only at a willingness to pay threshold of US$1200. CONCLUSIONS: HBIG following confirmatory test is not a cost-effective strategy for preventing vertical transmission of HBV in the Thailand-Myanmar border population. By switching to HBIG following rapid diagnostic test, perinatal infections will be reduced by nearly one third. This strategy may be applicable to similar settings for marginalized populations where the confirmatory test is not logistically possible.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Wiladphaingern J, Min AM, Pimanpanarak M, Paw MK, Raksuansak J, Pukrittayakamee S, Fowkes FJI, White NJ et al. 2017. Influence of the number and timing of malaria episodes during pregnancy on prematurity and small-for-gestational-age in an area of low transmission. BMC Med, 15 (1), pp. 117. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Most evidence on the association between malaria in pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes focuses on falciparum malaria detected at birth. We assessed the association between the number and timing of falciparum and vivax malaria episodes during pregnancy on small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and preterm birth. METHODS: We analysed observational data collected from antenatal clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border (1986-2015). We assessed the effects of the total number of malaria episodes in pregnancy on SGA and the effects of malaria in pregnancy on SGA, very preterm birth, and late preterm birth, by the gestational age at malaria detection and treatment using logistic regression models with time-dependent malaria variables (monthly intervals). World Health Organisation definitions of very preterm birth (≥28 and <32 weeks) and late preterm birth (≥32 and <37 weeks) and international SGA standards were used. RESULTS: Of 50,060 pregnant women followed, 8221 (16%) had malaria during their pregnancy. Of the 50,060 newborns, 10,005 (21%) were SGA, 540 (1%) were very preterm, and 4331 (9%) were late preterm. The rates of falciparum and vivax malaria were highest at 6 and 5 weeks' gestation, respectively. The odds of SGA increased linearly by 1.13-fold (95% confidence interval: 1.09, 1.17) and 1.27-fold (1.21, 1.33) per episode of falciparum and vivax malaria, respectively. Falciparum malaria at any gestation period after 12-16 weeks and vivax malaria after 20-24 weeks were associated with SGA (falciparum odds ratio, OR range: 1.15-1.63 [p range: <0.001-0.094]; vivax OR range: 1.12-1.54 [p range: <0.001-0.138]). Falciparum malaria at any gestation period after 24-28 weeks was associated with either very or late preterm birth (OR range: 1.44-2.53; p range: <0.001-0.001). Vivax malaria at 24-28 weeks was associated with very preterm birth (OR: 1.79 [1.11, 2.90]), and vivax malaria at 28-32 weeks was associated with late preterm birth (OR: 1.23 [1.01, 1.50]). Many of these associations held for asymptomatic malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Protection against malaria should be started as early as possible in pregnancy. Malaria control and elimination efforts in the general population can avert the adverse consequences associated with treated asymptomatic malaria in pregnancy.

Bancone G, Malleret B, Suwanarusk R, Chowwiwat N, Chu CS, McGready R, Rénia L, Nosten F, Russell B. 2017. Asian G6PD-Mahidol Reticulocytes Sustain Normal Plasmodium Vivax Development. J Infect Dis, 216 (2), pp. 263-266. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is the most common enzymatic disorder in humans and appears to be protective against falciparum severe malaria. Controversially, it is also thought that Plasmodium vivax has driven the recent selection of G6PD alleles. We use an experimental approach to determine whether G6PD-MahidolG487A variant, a widespread cause of severe G6PD deficiency in Southeast Asia, provides a barrier against vivax malaria. Our results show that the immature reticulocytes (CD71+) targeted by P. vivax invasion are enzymatically normal, even in hemizygous G6PD-Mahidol G487A mutants; thus, allowing the normal growth, development, and high parasite density in severely deficient samples.

McGregor K, Myat Min A, Karunkonkowit N, Keereechareon S, Tyrosvoutis ME, Tun NW, Rijken MJ, Hoogenboom G, Boel M, Chotivanich K et al. 2017. Obstetric ultrasound aids prompt referral of gestational trophoblastic disease in marginalized populations on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Glob Health Action, 10 (1), pp. 1296727. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of obstetric ultrasound in the diagnosis of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) in high-income settings is well established, leading to prompt management and high survival rates. Evidence from low-income settings suggests ultrasound is essential in identifying complicated pregnancies, but with limited studies reviewing specific conditions including GTD. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to review the role of ultrasound in diagnosis and management of GTD in a marginalized population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antenatal ultrasound became available in this rural setting in 2001 and care for women with GTD has been provided by Thailand public hospitals for 20 years. DESIGN: Retrospective record review. RESULTS: The incidence of GTD was 103 of 57,004 pregnancies in Karen and Burmese women on the Thailand-Myanmar border from 1993-2013. This equates to a rate of 1.8 (95% CI 1.5-2.2) per 1000 or 1 in 553 pregnancies. Of the 102 women with known outcomes, one (1.0%) died of haemorrhage at home. The median number of days between first antenatal clinic attendance and referral to hospital was reduced from 20 (IQR 5-35; range 1-155) to 2 (IQR 2-6; range 1-179) days (p = 0.002) after the introduction of ultrasound. The proportion of severe outcomes (death and total abdominal hysterectomy) was 25% (3/12) before ultrasound compared to 8.9% (8/90) with ultrasound (p = 0.119). A recurrence rate of 2.5% (2/80) was observed in the assessable population. The presence of malaria parasites in maternal blood was not associated with GTD. CONCLUSIONS: The rate of GTD in pregnancy in this population is comparable to rates previously reported within South-East Asia. Referral time for uterine evacuation was significantly shorter for those women who had an ultrasound. Ultrasound is an effective method to improve diagnosis of GTD in low-income settings and an effort to increase availability in marginalized populations is required.

Moore KA, Fowkes FJI, Wiladphaingern J, Wai NS, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Carrara VI, Raksuansak J, Simpson JA, White NJ et al. 2017. Mediation of the effect of malaria in pregnancy on stillbirth and neonatal death in an area of low transmission: observational data analysis. BMC Med, 15 (1), pp. 98. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy is preventable and contributes significantly to the estimated 5.5 million stillbirths and neonatal deaths that occur annually. The contribution of malaria in pregnancy in areas of low transmission has not been quantified, and the roles of maternal anaemia, small-for-gestational-age status, and preterm birth in mediating the effect of malaria in pregnancy on stillbirth and neonatal death are poorly elucidated. METHODS: We analysed observational data routinely collected at antenatal clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border (1986-2015). We used Cox regression and sequential mediation analysis to determine the effect of falciparum and vivax malaria in pregnancy on antepartum (death in utero) and intrapartum (death during labour) stillbirth and neonatal mortality as well as mediation through maternal anaemia, preterm birth, and small-for-gestational-age status. RESULTS: Of 61,836 women, 9350 (15%) had malaria in pregnancy, and 526 (0.8%) had stillbirths. In a sub-set of 9090 live born singletons followed from birth there were 153 (1.7%) neonatal deaths. The hazard of antepartum stillbirth increased 2.24-fold [95% confidence interval: 1.47, 3.41] following falciparum malaria (42% mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and anaemia), driven by symptomatic falciparum malaria (hazard ratio, HR: 2.99 [1.83, 4.89]) rather than asymptomatic falciparum malaria (HR: 1.35 [0.61, 2.96]). The hazard of antepartum stillbirth increased 2.21-fold [1.12, 4.33] following symptomatic vivax malaria (24% mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and anaemia) but not asymptomatic vivax malaria (HR: 0.54 [0.20, 1.45]). There was no association between falciparum or vivax malaria in pregnancy and intrapartum stillbirth (falciparum HR: 1.03 [0.58, 1.83]; vivax HR: 1.18 [0.66, 2.11]). Falciparum and vivax malaria in pregnancy increased the hazard of neonatal death 2.55-fold [1.54, 4.22] and 1.98-fold [1.10, 3.57], respectively (40% and 50%, respectively, mediated through small-for-gestational-age status and preterm birth). CONCLUSIONS: Prevention of malaria in pregnancy, new and existing interventions to prevent small-for-gestational-age status and maternal anaemia, and improved capacity for managing preterm and small-for-gestational-age newborns will reduce the number of malaria-associated stillbirths and neonatal deaths in malaria-endemic areas.

Carrara VI, Stuetz W, Lee SJ, Sriprawat K, Po B, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2017. Longer exposure to a new refugee food ration is associated with reduced prevalence of small for gestational age: results from 2 cross-sectional surveys on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Am J Clin Nutr, 105 (6), pp. 1382-1390. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Despite the high risk of compromised nutrition, evidence of the effect of refugee rations on fetal growth is limited. A new ration containing micronutrient-fortified flour without increased caloric content of the general food basket was introduced to the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, July 2004.Objective: The effect of the length of gestational exposure of the new ration on fetal growth was compared with birth outcomes [small for gestational age (SGA), preterm birth (PTB)].Design: In an observational study in 987 newborns from 1048 prospectively followed antenatal clinic (ANC) attendees enrolled in 2 cross-sectional surveys, exposure was categorized in 2004 according to gestation at the time of commencing the new ration and in 2006 as comprehensive (preconception and pregnancy). In both surveys, the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements were routine.Results: In 2004, the proportions of SGA decreased with longer exposure to the new ration: no exposure during pregnancy (27.7%; n = 13 of 47) and exposure in the third (27.6%; n = 37 of 134), second (18.6%; n = 35 of 188), and first (19.4%; n = 6 of 31) trimesters, respectively (adjusted P-trend = 0.046). In 2006, the new ration was available to all women and there was no significant additional impact of the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements. Between 2004 and 2006, SGA decreased from 28.9% (13 of 45) to 17.3% (69 of 398) (adjusted P = 0.050), a reduction of 40.1% (95% CI: 34.7%, 45.9%); there was also a decrease in the percentage of underweight women on admission to the ANC (38.2%; 95% CI: 31.4%, 45.5%). PTB rates were low and not significantly different with exposure to the new ration.Conclusions: In 2004, the earlier in gestation in which the new ration was available the greater the effect on fetal growth as shown by a reduced prevalence of SGA. In 2006, additional benefits to fetal growth from the pregnancy-specific ration and vitamin supplements beyond those of the preconception ration were not observed. Good nutrition in pregnancy remains an important challenge for refugee populations. This trial was registered at http://drks-neu.uniklinik-freiburg.de/drks_web/ as DRKS00007736.

Dellicour S, Sevene E, McGready R, Tinto H, Mosha D, Manyando C, Rulisa S, Desai M, Ouma P, Oneko M et al. 2017. First-trimester artemisinin derivatives and quinine treatments and the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in Africa and Asia: A meta-analysis of observational studies. PLoS Med, 14 (5), pp. e1002290. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Animal embryotoxicity data, and the scarcity of safety data in human pregnancies, have prevented artemisinin derivatives from being recommended for malaria treatment in the first trimester except in lifesaving circumstances. We conducted a meta-analysis of prospective observational studies comparing the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and major congenital anomaly (primary outcomes) among first-trimester pregnancies treated with artemisinin derivatives versus quinine or no antimalarial treatment. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Electronic databases including Medline, Embase, and Malaria in Pregnancy Library were searched, and investigators contacted. Five studies involving 30,618 pregnancies were included; four from sub-Saharan Africa (n = 6,666 pregnancies, six sites) and one from Thailand (n = 23,952). Antimalarial exposures were ascertained by self-report or active detection and confirmed by prescriptions, clinic cards, and outpatient registers. Cox proportional hazards models, accounting for time under observation and gestational age at enrollment, were used to calculate hazard ratios. Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis was used to combine the African studies, and the results were then combined with those from Thailand using aggregated data meta-analysis with a random effects model. There was no difference in the risk of miscarriage associated with the use of artemisinins anytime during the first trimester (n = 37/671) compared with quinine (n = 96/945; adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 0.73 [95% CI 0.44, 1.21], I2 = 0%, p = 0.228), in the risk of stillbirth (artemisinins, n = 10/654; quinine, n = 11/615; aHR = 0.29 [95% CI 0.08-1.02], p = 0.053), or in the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth combined (pregnancy loss) (aHR = 0.58 [95% CI 0.36-1.02], p = 0.099). The corresponding risks of miscarriage, stillbirth, and pregnancy loss in a sensitivity analysis restricted to artemisinin exposures during the embryo sensitive period (6-12 wk gestation) were as follows: aHR = 1.04 (95% CI 0.54-2.01), I2 = 0%, p = 0.910; aHR = 0.73 (95% CI 0.26-2.06), p = 0.551; and aHR = 0.98 (95% CI 0.52-2.04), p = 0.603. The prevalence of major congenital anomalies was similar for first-trimester artemisinin (1.5% [95% CI 0.6%-3.5%]) and quinine exposures (1.2% [95% CI 0.6%-2.4%]). Key limitations of the study include the inability to control for confounding by indication in the African studies, the paucity of data on potential confounders, the limited statistical power to detect differences in congenital anomalies, and the lack of assessment of cardiovascular defects in newborns. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to quinine, artemisinin treatment in the first trimester was not associated with an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. While the data are limited, they indicate no difference in the prevalence of major congenital anomalies between treatment groups. The benefits of 3-d artemisinin combination therapy regimens to treat malaria in early pregnancy are likely to outweigh the adverse outcomes of partially treated malaria, which can occur with oral quinine because of the known poor adherence to 7-d regimens. REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42015032371.

van Enter BJD, Lau Y-L, Ling CL, Watthanaworawit W, Sukthana Y, Lee W-C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma gondii Infection in Refugee and Migrant Pregnant Women along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 97 (1), pp. 232-235. | Show Abstract | Read more

Toxoplasma gondii primary infection in pregnancy is associated with poor obstetric outcomes. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection in pregnant migrant and refugee women from Myanmar attending antenatal care in Thailand. A random selection of 199 residual blood samples from first antenatal screen in 2014-2015 was tested for Toxoplasma IgG and IgM antibodies. Seroprevalence of Toxoplasma infection was 31.7% (95% confidence interval = 25.6-38.4). Avidity testing in the three positive IgM cases indicated all were past infections. Multiparity (≥ 3 children) was significantly associated with higher Toxoplasma seropositivity rates. Seroprevalence of T. gondii infection in this pregnant population is similar to the only other report from Myanmar, where multiparity was also identified as a significant association. Toxoplasma infection is important in pregnant women. Nevertheless, in this marginalized population, this infection may be given less priority, due to resource constraints in providing the most basic components of safe motherhood programs.

McLean ARD, Boel M, McGready R, Ataide R, Drew D, Tsuboi T, Beeson JG, Nosten F, Simpson JA, Fowkes FJI. 2017. Antibody Responses to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax and Prospective Risk of Plasmodium spp. Infection Postpartum. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 96 (5), pp. 1197-1204. | Show Abstract | Read more

AbstractPostpartum women may have an altered susceptibility to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. The relationship between naturally acquired malarial immunity and susceptibility to malaria postpartum is yet to be determined. IgG levels were measured against P. falciparum and P. vivax antigens from delivery in 201 postpartum and 201 nonpregnant controls over 12 weeks. Associations between time-varying antibody levels and time to first microscopically confirmed species-specific infection were determined by Cox regression. Associations between antibody levels and prospective risk of Plasmodium infection were similar in postpartum and control women. A 2-fold increase in P. falciparum antibody levels was associated with increased prospective risk of P. falciparum infection (hazard ratio [HR] range = 1.37-1.94). Antibody levels against most P. vivax antigens displayed no association with prospective risk of P. vivax infection (HR range = 1.02-1.05) with the exception of PvMSP119 antibodies that were weakly associated with prospective risk of P. vivax infection (HR = 1.14 (95% confidence interval = 1.02, 1.28) per 2-fold increase in levels). Associations between antibody levels and prospective risk of infection attenuated when adjusted for documented retrospective exposure. Serology may be a useful tool to predict and monitor women at increased risk of P. falciparum infection postpartum, particularly in the absence of a detailed history of retrospective infections.

Thielemans L, Trip-Hoving M, Bancone G, Turner C, Simpson JA, Hanboonkunupakarn B, van Hensbroek MB, van Rheenen P, Paw MK, Nosten F et al. 2017. Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia in a Marginalized Population on the Thai-Myanmar Border: a study protocol. BMC Pediatr, 17 (1), pp. 32. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: This study aims to identify risk factors and the neurodevelopmental impact of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in a limited-resource setting among a refugee and migrant population residing along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area with a high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-deficiency. METHODS: This is an analytic, observational, prospective birth cohort study including all infants of estimated gestational age equal to or greater than 28 weeks from mothers who followed antenatal care in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinics. At birth, a series of clinical exams and laboratory investigations on cord blood will be carried out. Serum bilirubin will be measured in all infants during their first week of life. All the infants of the cohort will be clinically followed until the age of one year, including monitoring of their neurodevelopment. DISCUSSION: The strength of this study is the prospective cohort design. It will allow us to collect information about the pregnancy and detect all infants with neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, to observe their clinical response under treatment and to compare their neurodevelopment with infants who did not develop neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Our study design has some limitations in particular the generalizability of our findings will be limited to infants born after the gestational age of 28 weeks onwards and neurodevelopment to the end of the first year of life. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov ID NCT02361788 , registration date September 1st, 2014.

Bancone G, Gilder ME, Chowwiwat N, Gornsawun G, Win E, Cho WW, Moo E, Min AM, Charunwatthana P, Carrara VI et al. 2017. Prevalences of inherited red blood cell disorders in pregnant women of different ethnicities living along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Wellcome Open Res, 2 pp. 72. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Inherited red blood cell disorders are prevalent in populations living in malaria endemic areas; G6PD deficiency is associated with oxidant-induced haemolysis and abnormal haemoglobin variants may cause chronic anaemia. In pregnant women, microcytic anaemia caused by haemoglobinopathies mimics iron deficiency, complicating diagnosis and treatment. Anaemia during pregnancy is associated with morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to characterise the prevalence of G6PD deficiency and haemoglobinopathies  among the pregnant population living along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in this area belong to several distinct ethnic groups. Methods: Data were available for 13,520 women attending antenatal care between July 2012 and September 2016. Screening for G6PD deficiency was done by fluorescent spot test routinely. G6PD genotyping and quantitative phenotyping by spectrophotometry were analysed in a subsample of women. Haemoglobin variants were diagnosed by HPLC or capillary electrophoresis and molecular methods. The prevalence and distribution of inherited red blood cell disorders was analysed with respect to ethnicity. Results: G6PD deficiency was common, especially in the Sgaw Karen ethnic group, in whom the G6PD Mahidol variant allele frequency was 20.7%. Quantitative G6PD phenotyping showed that 60.5% of heterozygous women had an intermediate enzymatic activity between 30% and 70% of the population median. HbE, beta-thalassaemia trait and Hb Constant Spring were found overall in 15.6% of women. Only 45.2% of women with low percentage of HbA 2 were carriers of mutations on the alpha globin genes. Conclusions: Distribution of G6PD and haemoglobin variants varied among the different ethnic groups, but the prevalence was generally high throughout the cohort. These findings encourage the implementation of an extended program of information and genetic counselling to women of reproductive age and will help inform future studies and current clinical management of anaemia in the pregnant population in this region.

McLean ARD, Stanisic D, McGready R, Chotivanich K, Clapham C, Baiwog F, Pimanpanarak M, Siba P, Mueller I, King CL et al. 2017. P. falciparum infection and maternofetal antibody transfer in malaria-endemic settings of varying transmission. PLoS One, 12 (10), pp. e0186577. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: During pregnancy, immunoglobulin G (IgG) is transferred from the mother to the fetus, providing protection from disease in early infancy. Plasmodium falciparum infections may reduce maternofetal antibody transfer efficiency, but mechanisms remain unclear. METHODS: Mother-cord paired serum samples collected at delivery from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Thailand-Myanmar Border Area (TMBA) were tested for IgG1 and IgG3 to four P. falciparum antigens and measles antigen, as well as total serum IgG. Multivariable linear regression was conducted to assess the association of peripheral P. falciparum infection during pregnancy or placental P. falciparum infection assessed at delivery with maternofetal antibody transfer efficiency. Path analysis assessed the extent to which associations between P. falciparum infection and antibody transfer were mediated by gestational age at delivery or levels of maternal total serum IgG. RESULTS: Maternofetal antibody transfer efficiency of IgG1 and IgG3 was lower in PNG compared to TMBA (mean difference in cord antibody levels (controlling for maternal antibody levels) ranged from -0.88 to 0.09, median of -0.20 log2 units). Placental P. falciparum infections were associated with substantially lower maternofetal antibody transfer efficiency in PNG primigravid women (mean difference in cord antibody levels (controlling for maternal antibody levels) ranged from -0.62 to -0.10, median of -0.36 log2 units), but not multigravid women. The lower antibody transfer efficiency amongst primigravid women with placental infection was only partially mediated by gestational age at delivery (proportion indirect effect ranged from 0% to 18%), whereas no mediation effects of maternal total serum IgG were observed. DISCUSSION: Primigravid women may be at risk of impaired maternofetal antibody transport with placental P. falciparum infection. Direct effects of P. falciparum on the placenta, rather than earlier gestational age and elevated serum IgG, are likely responsible for the majority of the reduction in maternofetal antibody transfer efficiency with placental infection.

Srikanok S, Parker DM, Parker AL, Lee T, Min AM, Ontuwong P, Oo Tan S, Sirinonthachai S, McGready R. 2017. Empirical lessons regarding contraception in a protracted refugee setting: A descriptive study from Maela camp on the Thai-Myanmar border 1996 - 2015. PLoS One, 12 (2), pp. e0172007. | Show Abstract | Read more

Conflict settings and refugee camps can be chaotic places, with large and rapid population movements, exacerbated public health problems, and ad hoc health services. Reproductive health care that includes family planning is of heightened importance in such settings, however, funding and resources tend to be constrained and geared towards acute health services such as trauma management and infectious disease containment. Here we report on the complexities and challenges of providing family planning in a post-emergency refugee setting, using the example of the largest refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border, in existence now for over 30 years. Data from 2009 demonstrates an upward trend in uptake of all contraceptives, especially long acting reversible contraception (LARC) and permanent methods (e.g. sterilization) over time. Increased uptake occurred during periods of time when there were boosts in funding or when barriers to access were alleviated. For example a surgeon fluent in local languages is correlated with increased uptake of tubal ligation in females. These data indicate that funding directed toward contraceptives in this refugee setting led to increases in contraceptives use. However, contraceptive uptake estimates depend on the baseline population which is difficult to measure in this setting. As far as we are aware, this is the longest reported review of family planning services for a refugee camp setting to date. The lessons learned from this setting may be valuable given the current global refugee crisis.

Anderson TJC, Nair S, McDew-White M, Cheeseman IH, Nkhoma S, Bilgic F, McGready R, Ashley E, Pyae Phyo A, White NJ, Nosten F. 2017. Population Parameters Underlying an Ongoing Soft Sweep in Southeast Asian Malaria Parasites. Mol Biol Evol, 34 (1), pp. 131-144. | Show Abstract | Read more

Multiple kelch13 alleles conferring artemisinin resistance (ART-R) are currently spreading through Southeast Asian malaria parasite populations, providing a unique opportunity to observe an ongoing soft selective sweep, investigate why resistance alleles have evolved multiple times and determine fundamental population genetic parameters for Plasmodium We sequenced kelch13 (n = 1,876), genotyped 75 flanking SNPs, and measured clearance rate (n = 3,552) in parasite infections from Western Thailand (2001-2014). We describe 32 independent coding mutations including common mutations outside the kelch13 propeller associated with significant reductions in clearance rate. Mutations were first observed in 2003 and rose to 90% by 2014, consistent with a selection coefficient of ∼0.079. ART-R allele diversity rose until 2012 and then dropped as one allele (C580Y) spread to high frequency. The frequency with which adaptive alleles arise is determined by the rate of mutation and the population size. Two factors drive this soft sweep: (1) multiple kelch13 amino-acid mutations confer resistance providing a large mutational target-we estimate the target is 87-163 bp. (2) The population mutation parameter (Θ = 2Neμ) can be estimated from the frequency distribution of ART-R alleles and is ∼5.69, suggesting that short term effective population size is 88 thousand to 1.2 million. This is 52-705 times greater than Ne estimated from fluctuation in allele frequencies, suggesting that we have previously underestimated the capacity for adaptive evolution in Plasmodium Our central conclusions are that retrospective studies may underestimate the complexity of selective events and the Ne relevant for adaptation for malaria is considerably higher than previously estimated.

Hoglund RM, Workman L, Edstein MD, Thanh NX, Quang NN, Zongo I, Ouedraogo JB, Borrmann S, Mwai L, Nsanzabana C et al. 2017. Population Pharmacokinetic Properties of Piperaquine in Falciparum Malaria: An Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis. PLoS Med, 14 (1), pp. e1002212. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) are the mainstay of the current treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, but ACT resistance is spreading across Southeast Asia. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is one of the five ACTs currently recommended by the World Health Organization. Previous studies suggest that young children (<5 y) with malaria are under-dosed. This study utilised a population-based pharmacokinetic approach to optimise the antimalarial treatment regimen for piperaquine. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Published pharmacokinetic studies on piperaquine were identified through a systematic literature review of articles published between 1 January 1960 and 15 February 2013. Individual plasma piperaquine concentration-time data from 11 clinical studies (8,776 samples from 728 individuals) in adults and children with uncomplicated malaria and healthy volunteers were collated and standardised by the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network. Data were pooled and analysed using nonlinear mixed-effects modelling. Piperaquine pharmacokinetics were described successfully by a three-compartment disposition model with flexible absorption. Body weight influenced clearance and volume parameters significantly, resulting in lower piperaquine exposures in small children (<25 kg) compared to larger children and adults (≥25 kg) after administration of the manufacturers' currently recommended dose regimens. Simulated median (interquartile range) day 7 plasma concentration was 29.4 (19.3-44.3) ng/ml in small children compared to 38.1 (25.8-56.3) ng/ml in larger children and adults, with the recommended dose regimen. The final model identified a mean (95% confidence interval) increase of 23.7% (15.8%-32.5%) in piperaquine bioavailability between each piperaquine dose occasion. The model also described an enzyme maturation function in very young children, resulting in 50% maturation at 0.575 (0.413-0.711) y of age. An evidence-based optimised dose regimen was constructed that would provide piperaquine exposures across all ages comparable to the exposure currently seen in a typical adult with standard treatment, without exceeding the concentration range observed with the manufacturers' recommended regimen. Limited data were available in infants and pregnant women with malaria as well as in healthy individuals. CONCLUSIONS: The derived population pharmacokinetic model was used to develop a revised dose regimen of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine that is expected to provide equivalent piperaquine exposures safely in all patients, including in small children with malaria. Use of this dose regimen is expected to prolong the useful therapeutic life of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine by increasing cure rates and thereby slowing resistance development. This work was part of the evidence that informed the World Health Organization technical guidelines development group in the development of the recently published treatment guidelines (2015).

Stirnemann J, Villar J, Salomon LJ, Ohuma E, Ruyan P, Altman DG, Nosten F, Craik R, Munim S, Cheikh Ismail L et al. 2017. International estimated fetal weight standards of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 49 (4), pp. 478-486. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Estimated fetal weight (EFW) and fetal biometry are complementary measures used to screen for fetal growth disturbances. Our aim was to provide international EFW standards to complement the INTERGROWTH-21st Fetal Growth Standards that are available for use worldwide. METHODS: Women with an accurate gestational-age assessment, who were enrolled in the prospective, international, multicenter, population-based Fetal Growth Longitudinal Study (FGLS) and INTERBIO-21st Fetal Study (FS), two components of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project, had ultrasound scans every 5 weeks from 9-14 weeks' until 40 weeks' gestation. At each visit, measurements of fetal head circumference (HC), biparietal diameter, occipitofrontal diameter, abdominal circumference (AC) and femur length (FL) were obtained blindly by dedicated research sonographers using standardized methods and identical ultrasound machines. Birth weight was measured within 12 h of delivery by dedicated research anthropometrists using standardized methods and identical electronic scales. Live babies without any congenital abnormality, who were born within 14 days of the last ultrasound scan, were selected for inclusion. As most births occurred at around 40 weeks' gestation, we constructed a bootstrap model selection and estimation procedure based on resampling of the complete dataset under an approximately uniform distribution of birth weight, thus enriching the sample size at extremes of fetal sizes, to achieve consistent estimates across the full range of fetal weight. We constructed reference centiles using second-degree fractional polynomial models. RESULTS: Of the overall population, 2404 babies were born within 14 days of the last ultrasound scan. Mean time between the last scan and birth was 7.7 (range, 0-14) days and was uniformly distributed. Birth weight was best estimated as a function of AC and HC (without FL) as log(EFW) = 5.084820 - 54.06633 × (AC/100)3  - 95.80076 × (AC/100)3  × log(AC/100) + 3.136370 × (HC/100), where EFW is in g and AC and HC are in cm. All other measures, gestational age, symphysis-fundus height, amniotic fluid indices and interactions between biometric measures and gestational age, were not retained in the selection process because they did not improve the prediction of EFW. Applying the formula to FGLS biometric data (n = 4231) enabled gestational age-specific EFW tables to be constructed. At term, the EFW centiles matched those of the INTERGROWTH-21st Newborn Size Standards but, at < 37 weeks' gestation, the EFW centiles were, as expected, higher than those of babies born preterm. Comparing EFW cross-sectional values with the INTERGROWTH-21st Preterm Postnatal Growth Standards confirmed that preterm postnatal growth is a different biological process from intrauterine growth. CONCLUSIONS: We provide an assessment of EFW, as an adjunct to routine ultrasound biometry, from 22 to 40 weeks' gestation. However, we strongly encourage clinicians to evaluate fetal growth using separate biometric measures such as HC and AC, as well as EFW, to avoid the minimalist approach of focusing on a single value. © 2016 Authors. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

White AL, Min TH, Gross MM, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Than HH, Zin TW, Rijken MJ, Hoogenboom G, McGready R. 2016. Accelerated Training of Skilled Birth Attendants in a Marginalized Population on the Thai-Myanmar Border: A Multiple Methods Program Evaluation. PLoS One, 11 (10), pp. e0164363. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To evaluate a skilled birth attendant (SBA) training program in a neglected population on the Thai-Myanmar border, we used multiple methods to show that refugee and migrant health workers can be given effective training in their own environment to become SBAs and teachers of SBAs. The loss of SBAs through resettlement to third countries necessitated urgent training of available workers to meet local needs. METHODS AND FINDINGS: All results were obtained from student records of theory grades and clinical log books. Qualitative evaluation of both the SBA and teacher programs was obtained using semi-structured interviews with supervisors and teachers. We also reviewed perinatal indicators over an eight-year period, starting prior to the first training program until after the graduation of the fourth cohort of SBAs. RESULTS: Four SBA training programs scheduled between 2009 and 2015 resulted in 79/88 (90%) of students successfully completing a training program of 250 theory hours and 625 supervised clinical hours. All 79 students were able to: achieve pass grades on theory examination (median 80%, range [70-89]); obtain the required clinical experience within twelve months; achieve clinical competence to provide safe care during childbirth. In 2010-2011, five experienced SBAs completed a train-the-trainer (TOT) program and went on to facilitate further training programs. Perinatal indicators within Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), such as place of birth, maternal and newborn outcomes, showed no significant differences before and after introduction of training or following graduate deployment in the local maternity units. Confidence, competence and teamwork emerged from qualitative evaluation by senior SBAs working with and supervising students in the clinics. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that in resource-limited settings or in marginalized populations, it is possible to accelerate training of skilled birth attendants to provide safe maternity care. Education needs to be tailored to local needs to ensure evidence-based care of women and their families.

Mcgready R, Turner C, Rijken M, Wong N, Salisbury P, Chandra A, Nosten F, Bendell B, Moore K, Sneddon A. 2016. Impact of ALSO (R) Australasia on PPH-Related Maternal Mortality on the Thailand-Myanmar Border in a Population Based Cohort Study AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF OBSTETRICS & GYNAECOLOGY, 56 pp. 24-25.

Fellmeth G, Oo MM, Lay B, McGready R. 2016. Paired suicide in a young refugee couple on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMJ Case Rep, 2016 pp. bcr2016215527-bcr2016215527. | Show Abstract | Read more

A young refugee woman attended antenatal clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border at 9 weeks' gestation. As part of an ongoing study of perinatal mental health, she underwent a structured psychiatric interview during which she described occasional depressed mood, anhedonia and passive suicidal ideation. Her husband was a young refugee known to use alcohol and drugs. 2 days later, the couple committed suicide together by herbicide ingestion. Refugee populations are at risk of developing mental disorders as a result of their marginalised status, socioeconomic disadvantage and exposures to trauma. Pregnancy may have exacerbated feelings of hopelessness in this couple. The prevalence of mental disorders such as depression is increased in the perinatal period and suicide is the second leading cause of death in young women globally. Prevention programmes and early recognition of mental disorders may improve detection and lead to better support for vulnerable individuals.

Phyo AP, Ashley EA, Anderson TJC, Bozdech Z, Carrara VI, Sriprawat K, Nair S, White MM, Dziekan J, Ling C et al. 2016. Declining Efficacy of Artemisinin Combination Therapy Against P. Falciparum Malaria on the Thai-Myanmar Border (2003-2013): The Role of Parasite Genetic Factors. Clin Infect Dis, 63 (6), pp. 784-791. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Deployment of mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3) on the Thailand-Myanmar border has led to a sustained reduction in falciparum malaria, although antimalarial efficacy has declined substantially in recent years. The role of Plasmodium falciparum K13 mutations (a marker of artemisinin resistance) in reducing treatment efficacy remains controversial. METHODS: Between 2003 and 2013, we studied the efficacy of MAS3 in 1005 patients with uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in relation to molecular markers of resistance. RESULTS: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-adjusted cure rates declined from 100% in 2003 to 81.1% in 2013 as the proportions of isolates with multiple Pfmdr1 copies doubled from 32.4% to 64.7% and those with K13 mutations increased from 6.7% to 83.4%. K13 mutations conferring moderate artemisinin resistance (notably E252Q) predominated initially but were later overtaken by propeller mutations associated with slower parasite clearance (notably C580Y). Those infected with both multiple Pfmdr1 copy number and a K13 propeller mutation were 14 times more likely to fail treatment. The PCR-adjusted cure rate was 57.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 45.4, 68.3) compared with 97.8% (95% CI, 93.3, 99.3) in patients with K13 wild type and Pfmdr1 single copy. K13 propeller mutation alone was a strong risk factor for recrudescence (P = .009). The combined population attributable fraction of recrudescence associated with K13 mutation and Pfmdr1 amplification was 82%. CONCLUSIONS: The increasing prevalence of K13 mutations was the decisive factor for the recent and rapid decline in efficacy of artemisinin-based combination (MAS3) on the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Prins TJ, Trip-Hoving M, Paw MK, Ka ML, Win NN, Htoo G, Hser MK, Chotivanich K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2017. A Survey of Practice and Knowledge of Refugee and Migrant Pregnant Mothers Surrounding Neonatal Jaundice on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Trop Pediatr, 63 (1), pp. 50-56. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: In populations with a high prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, practices that can induce haemolysis need to be identified to raise awareness of preventable risks. The aim of this survey was to determine the proportion of prospective mothers using haemolytic agents and their knowledge and practice surrounding neonatal jaundice. METHODS: Pregnant mothers were invited to participate in a cross-sectional survey conducted at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thailand-Myanmar border. RESULTS: From 12 April 2015 to 12 June 2015, 522 pregnant women completed the survey. Mothball use in the household was reported by 41.4% (216 of 522) of prospective mothers and menthol containing products on baby skin by 46.7% (244 of 522). CONCLUSION: Just over 40% of the households reported use of naphthalene-containing mothballs. Future health promotion activities that focus on reducing naphthalene mothball and menthol-containing products use have the potential to reduce rates of severe neonatal jaundice in this population.

Salisbury P, Hall L, Kulkus S, Paw MK, Tun NW, Min AM, Chotivanich K, Srikanok S, Ontuwong P, Sirinonthachai S et al. 2016. Family planning knowledge, attitudes and practices in refugee and migrant pregnant and post-partum women on the Thailand-Myanmar border - a mixed methods study. Reprod Health, 13 (1), pp. 94. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lack of data in marginalized populations on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) hampers efforts to improve modern contraceptive practice. A mixed methods study to better understand family planning KAP amongst refugee and migrant women on the Thailand-Myanmar border was conducted as part of an ongoing effort to improve reproductive health, particularly maternal mortality, through Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) antenatal and birthing services. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs) in currently pregnant women; and in-depth interviews (IDIs) in selected post-partum women with three children or more; were conducted. Quantitative data were described with medians and proportions and compared using standard statistical tests. Risk factors associated with high parity (>3) were identified using logistic regression analysis. Qualitative data were coded and grouped and discussed using identified themes. RESULTS: In January-March 2015, 978 women participated in cross-sectional studies, 120 in FGD and 21 in IDI. Major positive findings were: > 90 % of women knew about contraceptives for birth spacing, >60 % of women in the FGD and IDI reported use of family planning (FP) in the past and nearly all women knew where they could obtain FP supplies. Major gaps identified included: low uptake of long acting contraception (LAC), lack of awareness of emergency contraception (>90 % of women), unreliable estimates of when child bearing years end, and misconceptions surrounding female sterilization. Three was identified as the ideal number of children in the cross-sectional survey but less than half of the women with this parity or higher in the IDI actually adopted LAC leaving them at risk for unintended pregnancy. Discussing basic female anatomy using a simple diagram was well received in FGD and IDIs. LAC uptake has increased particularly the IUD from 2013-2015. CONCLUSION: Definitive contextual issues were identified during this study and a significant range of action points have been implemented in FP services at SMRU as a result, particularly in regard to the IUD. The importance of the role and attitudes of husbands were acknowledged by women and studies to investigate male perspectives in future may enhance FP practice in this area.

Watthanaworawit W, Kolakowska E, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Ling C, McGready R. 2016. Scrub typhus infection in pregnancy: the dilemma of diagnosis and treatment in a resource-limited setting. Clin Case Rep, 4 (6), pp. 584-588. | Show Abstract | Read more

To save the life of both mother and fetus, the risks and benefits of the few antibiotics considered effective in the treatment of severe scrub typhus require consideration. In this case, chloramphenicol treatment averted maternal but not fetal mortality. Evidence-based guidelines appropriate for resource-limited endemic areas are required.

WWARN Gametocyte Study Group. 2016. Gametocyte carriage in uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria following treatment with artemisinin combination therapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data. BMC Med, 14 (1), pp. 79. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Gametocytes are responsible for transmission of malaria from human to mosquito. Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) reduces post-treatment gametocyte carriage, dependent upon host, parasite and pharmacodynamic factors. The gametocytocidal properties of antimalarial drugs are important for malaria elimination efforts. An individual patient clinical data meta-analysis was undertaken to identify the determinants of gametocyte carriage and the comparative effects of four ACTs: artemether-lumefantrine (AL), artesunate/amodiaquine (AS-AQ), artesunate/mefloquine (AS-MQ), and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP). METHODS: Factors associated with gametocytaemia prior to, and following, ACT treatment were identified in multivariable logistic or Cox regression analysis with random effects. All relevant studies were identified through a systematic review of PubMed. Risk of bias was evaluated based on study design, methodology, and missing data. RESULTS: The systematic review identified 169 published and 9 unpublished studies, 126 of which were shared with the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) and 121 trials including 48,840 patients were included in the analysis. Prevalence of gametocytaemia by microscopy at enrolment was 12.1 % (5887/48,589), and increased with decreasing age, decreasing asexual parasite density and decreasing haemoglobin concentration, and was higher in patients without fever at presentation. After ACT treatment, gametocytaemia appeared in 1.9 % (95 % CI, 1.7-2.1) of patients. The appearance of gametocytaemia was lowest after AS-MQ and AL and significantly higher after DP (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR), 2.03; 95 % CI, 1.24-3.12; P = 0.005 compared to AL) and AS-AQ fixed dose combination (FDC) (AHR, 4.01; 95 % CI, 2.40-6.72; P < 0.001 compared to AL). Among individuals who had gametocytaemia before treatment, gametocytaemia clearance was significantly faster with AS-MQ (AHR, 1.26; 95 % CI, 1.00-1.60; P = 0.054) and slower with DP (AHR, 0.74; 95 % CI, 0.63-0.88; P = 0.001) compared to AL. Both recrudescent (adjusted odds ratio (AOR), 9.05; 95 % CI, 3.74-21.90; P < 0.001) and new (AOR, 3.03; 95 % CI, 1.66-5.54; P < 0.001) infections with asexual-stage parasites were strongly associated with development of gametocytaemia after day 7. CONCLUSIONS: AS-MQ and AL are more effective than DP and AS-AQ FDC in preventing gametocytaemia shortly after treatment, suggesting that the non-artemisinin partner drug or the timing of artemisinin dosing are important determinants of post-treatment gametocyte dynamics.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Wiladphaingern J, Rijken MJ, Jittamala P, White NJ, Fowkes FJI, Nosten F, McGready R. 2016. Safety of artemisinins in first trimester of prospectively followed pregnancies: an observational study. Lancet Infect Dis, 16 (5), pp. 576-583. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinins, the most effective antimalarials available, are not recommended for falciparum malaria during the first trimester of pregnancy because of safety concerns. Therefore, quinine is used despite its poor effectiveness. Assessing artemisinin safety requires weighing the risks of malaria and its treatment. We aimed to assess the effect of first-trimester malaria and artemisinin treatment on miscarriage and major congenital malformations. METHODS: In this observational study, we assessed data from antenatal clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border between Jan 1, 1994, and Dec 31, 2013. We included women who presented to antenatal clinics during their first trimester with a viable fetus. Women were screened for malaria, and data on malaria, antimalarial treatment, and birth outcomes were collected. The relationship between artemisinin treatments (artesunate, dihydroartemisinin, or artemether) and miscarriage or malformation was assessed using Cox regression with left-truncation and time-varying exposures. FINDINGS: Of 55 636 pregnancies registered between 1994 and 2013, 25 485 pregnancies were analysed for first-trimester malaria and miscarriage, in which 2558 (10%) had first-trimester malaria. The hazard of miscarriage increased 1·61-fold after an initial first-trimester falciparum episode (95% CI 1·32-1·97; p<0·0001), 3·24-fold following falciparum recurrence (2·24-4·68; p<0·0001), and 2·44-fold (1·01-5·88; p=0·0473) following recurrent symptomatic vivax malaria. No difference was noted in miscarriage in first-line falciparum treatments with artemisinin (n=183) versus quinine (n=842; HR 0·78 [95% CI 0·45-1·34]; p=0·3645) or in risk of major congenital malformations (two [2%] of 109 [95% CI 0·22-6·47] versus eight (1%) of 641 [0·54-2·44], respectively). INTERPRETATION: First-trimester falciparum and vivax malaria both increase the risk of miscarriage. We noted no evidence of an increased risk of miscarriage or of major congenital malformations associated with first-line treatment with an artemisinin derivative compared with quinine. In view of the low efficacy of quinine and wide availability of highly effective artemisinin-based combination therapies, it is time to reconsider first-trimester antimalarial treatment recommendations. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Fellmeth G, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Charunwatthana P, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2016. Maternal suicide risk among refugees and migrants. Int J Gynaecol Obstet, 134 (2), pp. 223-224. | Read more

Tarning J. 2016. Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy. N Engl J Med, 374 (10), pp. 981-982. | Read more

Charnaud SC, McGready R, Herten-Crabb A, Powell R, Guy A, Langer C, Richards JS, Gilson PR, Chotivanich K, Tsuboi T et al. 2016. Maternal-foetal transfer of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax antibodies in a low transmission setting. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 20859. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies are transferred from mother to neonate across the placenta. Studies in high transmission areas have shown transfer of P. falciparum-specific IgG, but the extent and factors influencing maternal-foetal transfer in low transmission areas co-endemic for both P. falciparum and P. vivax are unknown. Pregnant women were screened weekly for Plasmodium infection. Mother-neonate paired serum samples at delivery were tested for IgG to antigens from P. falciparum, P. vivax and other infectious diseases. Antibodies to malarial and non-malarial antigens were highly correlated between maternal and neonatal samples (median [range] spearman ρ = 0.78 [0.57-0.93]), although Plasmodium spp. antibodies tended to be lower in neonates than mothers. Estimated gestational age at last P. falciparum infection, but not P. vivax infection, was positively associated with antibody levels in the neonate (P. falciparum merozoite, spearman ρ median [range] 0.42 [0.33-0.66], PfVAR2CSA 0.69; P. vivax ρ = 0.19 [0.09-0.3]). Maternal-foetal transfer of anti-malarial IgG to Plasmodium spp. antigens occurs in low transmission settings. P. vivax IgG acquisition is not associated with recent exposure unlike P. falciparum IgG, suggesting a difference in acquisition of antibodies. IgG transfer is greatest in the final weeks of pregnancy which has implications for the timing of future malaria vaccination strategies in pregnant women.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, Mc Gready R, Lee SJ, Sriprawat K, Po B, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Grune T, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2016. Impact of Food Rations and Supplements on Micronutrient Status by Trimester of Pregnancy: Cross-Sectional Studies in the Maela Refugee Camp in Thailand. Nutrients, 8 (2), pp. 66. | Show Abstract | Read more

Micronutrient fortified flour (MFF), supplementary food rations and micronutrient (MN) supplements may prevent deficiencies among pregnant women. Objectives of cross-sectional surveys in 2004 (n = 533) and 2006 (n = 515) were to assess the impact of new food rations (flour, oil) and supplements on MN status by trimester of pregnancy in the Maela refugee camp. Hemoglobin, iron status, zinc, retinol, β-carotene and tryptophan decreased, while α-/γ-tocopherol and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) increased from first to third trimester. In 2006, mean zinc and α-tocopherol for each trimester was significantly higher than in 2004. The weeks of supplemented thiamine and folic acid were positively correlated with thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and 5-MTHF, but not for ferrous sulfate as iron deficiency was observed in 38.5% of third-trimester women. Frequent consumption of fish paste and owning a garden or animal were associated with significantly higher iron status, retinol, β-carotene, and 5-MTHF. In conclusion, MFF and supplementary oil were most likely to explain improved zinc and α-tocopherol status, while thiamine and folate supplements ensured high TDP and 5-MTHF in late pregnancy. MN supplements, MN-rich staple food, small gardens, and programs to improve iron compliance are promising strategies to prevent MN deficiencies during pregnancy in vulnerable populations.

Weerasuriya CK, Tan SO, Alexakis LC, Set AK, Rijken MJ, Martyn P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2016. Erratum to: Evaluation of a surgical service in the chronic phase of a refugee camp: an example from the Thai-Myanmar border. Confl Health, 10 (1), pp. 24. | Show Abstract | Read more

[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1186/1752-1505-6-5.].

Carrara VI, Darakomon MC, Thin NWW, Paw NTK, Wah N, Wah HG, Helen N, Keereecharoen S, Paw NTM, Jittamala P et al. 2016. Evaluation and Acceptability of a Simplified Test of Visual Function at Birth in a Limited-Resource Setting. PLoS One, 11 (6), pp. e0157087. | Show Abstract | Read more

Neurological examination, including visual fixation and tracking of a target, is routinely performed in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit postnatal care units on the Thailand-Myanmar border. We aimed to evaluate a simple visual newborn test developed in Italy and performed by non-specialized personnel working in neonatal care units. An intensive training of local health staff in Thailand was conducted prior to performing assessments at 24, 48 and 72 hours of life in healthy, low-risk term singletons. The 48 and 72 hours results were then compared to values obtained to those from Italy. Parents and staff administering the test reported on acceptability. One hundred and seventy nine newborns, between June 2011 and October 2012, participated in the study. The test was rapidly completed if the infant remained in an optimal behavioral stage (7 ± 2 minutes) but the test duration increased significantly (12 ± 4 minutes, p < 0.001) if its behavior changed. Infants were able to fix a target and to discriminate a colored face at 24 hours of life. Horizontal tracking of a target was achieved by 96% (152/159) of the infants at 48 hours. Circular tracking, stripe discrimination and attention to distance significantly improved between each 24-hour test period. The test was easily performed by non-specialized local staff and well accepted by the parents. Healthy term singletons in this limited-resource setting have a visual response similar to that obtained to gestational age matched newborns in Italy. It is possible to use these results as a reference set of values for the visual assessment in Karen and Burmese infants in the first 72 hours of life. The utility of the 24 hours test should be pursued.

Banks T, Kang J, Watts I, Tyrosvoutis MEG, Min AM, Tun NW, Keereecharoen L, Simmawong W, Wanyatip S, Hanboonkunupakarn B et al. 2016. High hepatitis B seroprevalence and risk factors for infection in pregnant women on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Infect Dev Ctries, 10 (4), pp. 384-388. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Infection from Hepatitis B primarily results from peri-partum vertical transmission and the risk increases in the presence of hepatitis B e antigen. We aimed to evaluate a new screening program for hepatitis B in pregnant women as a component of antenatal services in a marginalized population. METHODOLOGY: Counseling and screening for hepatitis B screening was offered to all women at the first visit, at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) antenatal clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border.  Point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) were used throughout the period of evaluation. A certified Thai Public Health laboratory at Mae Sot Hospital verified RDT positive cases using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for HBsAb and HBeAg. Risk factors for hepatitis B were identified by data linkage to antenatal care records. RESULTS: There were 523 (8.5%) RDT positive for HBsAg among 6158 women tested (Aug-2012 to April-2014). Of these 373 (96.9%) of 385 sent for confirmation were positive by ELISA i.e. RDT false positive rate of 3.1% (95% CI 1.7- 5.4). The overall confirmed HbsAg prevalence was 8.3% (511/6158) (95% CI 7.6-9.0). HBeAg prevalence was 32.7% (114/350) (95% CI 27.9-37.7) of cases tested. Risk factors for HBsAg positivity included age >25 years (OR 1.24, CI 1.03-1.49, p 0.021) and Karen heritage (OR 1.73, CI 1.39-2.15, p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: High hepatitis B seroprevalence amongst migrants and refugees accessing SMRU antenatal services likely reflects that of Kayin State, Myanmar, and perinatal prevention programs are required. False positive cases with HBsAg RDT complicate what is theoretically a straightforward screening.

Brummaier T, Ling C, Chu CS, Wuthiekanun V, Haohankhunnatham W, McGready R. 2016. Subcutaneous abscess formation in septic melioidosis, devoid of associated risk factors. IDCases, 4 pp. 23. | Read more

De Beaudrap P, Turyakira E, Nabasumba C, Tumwebaze B, Piola P, Boum Ii Y, McGready R. 2016. Timing of malaria in pregnancy and impact on infant growth and morbidity: a cohort study in Uganda. Malar J, 15 (1), pp. 92. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) is a major cause of fetal growth restriction and low birth weight in endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Understanding of the impact of MiP on infant growth and infant risk of malaria or morbidity is poorly characterized. The objective of this study was to describe the impact of MIP on subsequent infant growth, malaria and morbidity. METHODS: Between 2006 and 2009, 82 % (832/1018) of pregnant women with live-born singletons and ultrasound determined gestational age were enrolled in a prospective cohort with active weekly screening and treatment for malaria. Infants were followed monthly for growth and morbidity and received active monthly screening and treatment for malaria during their first year of life. Multivariate analyses were performed to analyse the association between malaria exposure during pregnancy and infants' growth, malaria infections, diarrhoea episodes and acute respiratory infections. RESULTS: Median time of infant follow-up was 12 months and infants born to a mother who had MiP were at increased risk of impaired height and weight gain (-2.71 cm, 95 % CI -4.17 to -1.25 and -0.42 kg, 95 % CI -0.76 to -0.08 at 12 months for >1 MiP compared to no MiP) and of malaria infection (relative risk 10.42, 95 % CI 2.64-41.10 for infants born to mothers with placental malaria). The risks of infant growth restriction and infant malaria infection were maximal when maternal malaria occurred in the 12 weeks prior to delivery. Recurrent MiP was also associated with acute respiratory infection (RR 1.96, 95 % CI 1.25-3.06) and diarrhoea during infancy (RR 1.93, 95 % CI 1.02-3.66). CONCLUSION: This study shows that despite frequent active screening and prompt treatment of MiP, impaired growth and an increased risk of malaria and non-malaria infections can be observed in the infants. Effective preventive measures in pregnancy remain a research priority. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00495508.

Lee W-C, Malleret B, Lau Y-L, Mauduit M, Fong M-Y, Cho JS, Suwanarusk R, Zhang R, Albrecht L, Costa FTM et al. 2015. Glycophorin C (CD236R) mediates vivax malaria parasite rosetting to normocytes BLOOD, 126 (25), pp. E100-E109. | Read more

Cross R, Ling C, Day NPJ, McGready R, Paris DH. 2016. Revisiting doxycycline in pregnancy and early childhood--time to rebuild its reputation? Expert Opin Drug Saf, 15 (3), pp. 367-382. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Doxycycline is highly effective, inexpensive with a broad therapeutic spectrum and exceptional bioavailability. However these benefits have been overshadowed by its classification alongside the tetracyclines - class D drugs, contraindicated in pregnancy and in children under 8 years of age. Doxycycline-treatable diseases are emerging as leading causes of undifferentiated febrile illness in Southeast Asia. For example scrub typhus and murine typhus have an unusually severe impact on pregnancy outcomes, and current mortality rates for scrub typhus reach 12-13% in India and Thailand. The emerging evidence for these important doxycycline-treatable diseases prompted us to revisit doxycycline usage in pregnancy and childhood. AREAS COVERED: A systematic review of the available literature on doxycycline use in pregnant women and children revealed a safety profile of doxycycline that differed significantly from that of tetracycline; no correlation between the use of doxycycline and teratogenic effects during pregnancy or dental staining in children was found. EXPERT OPINION: The change of the US FDA pregnancy classification scheme to an evidence-based approach will enable adequate evaluation of doxycycline in common tropical illnesses and in vulnerable populations in clinical treatment trials, dosage-optimization pharmacokinetic studies and for the empirical treatment of undifferentiated febrile illnesses, especially in pregnant women and children.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SLM, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Correction to 'Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings'. J R Soc Interface, 12 (113), pp. 20150978. | Read more

Kaji A, Parker DM, Chu CS, Thayatkawin W, Suelaor J, Charatrueangrongkun R, Salathibuppha K, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2016. Immunization Coverage in Migrant School Children Along the Thailand-Myanmar Border. J Immigr Minor Health, 18 (5), pp. 1038-1045. | Show Abstract | Read more

The objective of this project was to document and increase vaccine coverage in migrant school children on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Migrant school children (n = 12,277) were enrolled in a school-based immunization program in four Thai border districts. The children were evaluated for vaccination completion and timing, for six different vaccines: Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG); Oral Polio vaccine (OPV); Hepatitis B vaccine (HepB); Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus vaccine (DTP); Measles Containing Vaccine or Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR); Tetanus and Diphtheria containing vaccine (Td). Vaccine coverage proportions for BCG, OPV3, DTP3, HepB3 and measles containing vaccine were 92.3, 85.3, 63.8, 72.2, and 90.9 % respectively. Most children were able to receive vaccines in a time appropriate manner. School-based immunization programs offer a suitable vaccine delivery mechanism for hard-to-reach populations. However, these data suggest overall low vaccine coverage in migrant populations. Further efforts toward improving appropriate vaccine coverage and methods of retaining documentation of vaccination in mobile migrant populations are necessary for improved health.

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand–Myanmar border Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Parker et al. Background: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Discussion: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. Conclusion: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

Kloprogge F, McGready R, Phyo AP, Rijken MJ, Hanpithakpon W, Than HH, Hlaing N, Zin NT, Day NPJ, White NJ et al. 2015. Opposite malaria and pregnancy effect on oral bioavailability of artesunate - a population pharmacokinetic evaluation. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 80 (4), pp. 642-653. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: The aim was to compare the pharmacokinetic properties of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin in the same women: i) pregnant with acute uncomplicated malaria on day 1 and 2, ii) pregnant with convalescent malaria on day 7 and iii) in a healthy state 3 months post-partum on day 1, 2 and 7. METHODS: Non-linear mixed-effects modelling was used to compare plasma concentration-time profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin over 7 days of treatment following oral and intravenous artesunate administration to pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria during their second or third trimesters of pregnancy. The same women were restudied 3 months after delivery when fully recovered. Non-compartmental results of the same study have been published previously. RESULTS: Twenty pregnant patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border were studied and 15 volunteered to be restudied 3 months post-partum. Malaria and pregnancy had no effect on the pharmacokinetic properties of artesunate or dihydroartemisinin after intravenous artesunate administration. However, malaria and pregnancy had opposite effects on the absorption of orally administered artesunate. Malaria increased the absolute oral bioavailability of artesunate by 87%, presumably by inhibiting first pass effect, whereas pregnancy decreased oral bioavailability by 23%. CONCLUSIONS: The population pharmacokinetic analysis demonstrated opposite effects of malaria and pregnancy on the bioavailability of orally administered artesunate. Lower drug exposures during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy may contribute to lower cure rates and thus the development of drug resistance. Dose optimization studies are required for artesunate containing artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) in later pregnancy.

Ashley EA, Aweeka F, Barnes KI, Bassat Q, Borrmann S, Dahal P, Davis TME, Deloron P, Denis MB, Djimde AA et al. 2015. Artemether-lumefantrine treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: a systematic review and meta-analysis of day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and therapeutic response using individual patient data BMC Medicine, 13 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) Lumefantrine PK/PD Study Group. Background: Achieving adequate antimalarial drug exposure is essential for curing malaria. Day 7 blood or plasma lumefantrine concentrations provide a simple measure of drug exposure that correlates well with artemether-lumefantrine efficacy. However, the 'therapeutic' day 7 lumefantrine concentration threshold needs to be defined better, particularly for important patient and parasite sub-populations. Methods: The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) conducted a large pooled analysis of individual pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic data from patients treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, to define therapeutic day 7 lumefantrine concentrations and identify patient factors that substantially alter these concentrations. A systematic review of PubMed, Embase, Google Scholar, ClinicalTrials.gov and conference proceedings identified all relevant studies. Risk of bias in individual studies was evaluated based on study design, methodology and missing data. Results: Of 31 studies identified through a systematic review, 26 studies were shared with WWARN and 21 studies with 2,787 patients were included. Recrudescence was associated with low day 7 lumefantrine concentrations (HR 1.59 (95 % CI 1.36 to 1.85) per halving of day 7 concentrations) and high baseline parasitemia (HR 1.87 (95 % CI 1.22 to 2.87) per 10-fold increase). Adjusted for mg/kg dose, day 7 concentrations were lowest in very young children ( < 3 years), among whom underweight-for-age children had 23 % (95 % CI -1 to 41 %) lower concentrations than adequately nourished children of the same age and 53 % (95 % CI 37 to 65 %) lower concentrations than adults. Day 7 lumefantrine concentrations were 44 % (95 % CI 38 to 49 %) lower following unsupervised treatment. The highest risk of recrudescence was observed in areas of emerging artemisinin resistance and very low transmission intensity. For all other populations studied, day 7 concentrations ≥200 ng/ml were associated with > 98 % cure rates (if parasitemia < 135,000/μL). Conclusions: Current artemether-lumefantrine dosing recommendations achieve day 7 lumefantrine concentrations ≥200 ng/ml and high cure rates in most uncomplicated malaria patients. Three groups are at increased risk of treatment failure: very young children (particularly those underweight-for-age); patients with high parasitemias; and patients in very low transmission intensity areas with emerging parasite resistance. In these groups, adherence and treatment response should be monitored closely. Higher, more frequent, or prolonged dosage regimens should now be evaluated in very young children, particularly if malnourished, and in patients with hyperparasitemia.

Kloprogge F, McGready R, Hanpithakpong W, Blessborn D, Day NPJ, White NJ, Nosten F, Tarning J. 2015. Lumefantrine and Desbutyl-Lumefantrine Population Pharmacokinetic-Pharmacodynamic Relationships in Pregnant Women with Uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum Malaria on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (10), pp. 6375-6384. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemether-lumefantrine is the most widely used antimalarial artemisinin-based combination treatment. Recent studies have suggested that day 7 plasma concentrations of the potent metabolite desbutyl-lumefantrine correlate better with treatment outcomes than those of lumefantrine. Low cure rates have been reported in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with artemether-lumefantrine in northwest Thailand. A simultaneous pharmacokinetic drug-metabolite model was developed based on dense venous and sparse capillary lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine plasma samples from 116 pregnant patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border. The best model was used to evaluate therapeutic outcomes with a time-to-event approach. Lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine concentrations, implemented in an Emax model, both predicted treatment outcomes, but lumefantrine provided better predictive power. A combined model including both lumefantrine and desbutyl-lumefantrine did not improve the model further. Simulations suggested that cure rates in pregnant women with falciparum malaria could be increased by prolonging the treatment course. (These trials were registered at controlled-trials.com [ISRCTN 86353884].).

Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intermittent presumptive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: A counter perspective Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Nosten and McGready. Malaria continues to cause devastation during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is still no clear strategy to effectively protect pregnant women and countless mothers living in malaria endemic countries are dying every year. The effective prevention of malaria during pregnancy will take much more than the so-called "Global Call for Action" for an intervention (IPTp-SP) that cannot succeed. A new and truly "global" strategy is urgently needed.

Worldwide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) AL Dose Impact Study Group. 2015. The effect of dose on the antimalarial efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine: a systematic review and pooled analysis of individual patient data. Lancet Infect Dis, 15 (6), pp. 692-702. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemether-lumefantrine is the most widely used artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria, although treatment failures occur in some regions. We investigated the effect of dosing strategy on efficacy in a pooled analysis from trials done in a wide range of malaria-endemic settings. METHODS: We searched PubMed for clinical trials that enrolled and treated patients with artemether-lumefantrine and were published from 1960 to December, 2012. We merged individual patient data from these trials by use of standardised methods. The primary endpoint was the PCR-adjusted risk of Plasmodium falciparum recrudescence by day 28. Secondary endpoints consisted of the PCR-adjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, PCR-unadjusted risk of P falciparum recurrence by day 42, early parasite clearance, and gametocyte carriage. Risk factors for PCR-adjusted recrudescence were identified using Cox's regression model with frailty shared across the study sites. FINDINGS: We included 61 studies done between January, 1998, and December, 2012, and included 14,327 patients in our analyses. The PCR-adjusted therapeutic efficacy was 97·6% (95% CI 97·4-97·9) at day 28 and 96·0% (95·6-96·5) at day 42. After controlling for age and parasitaemia, patients prescribed a higher dose of artemether had a lower risk of having parasitaemia on day 1 (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·86-0·99 for every 1 mg/kg increase in daily artemether dose; p=0·024), but not on day 2 (p=0·69) or day 3 (0·087). In Asia, children weighing 10-15 kg who received a total lumefantrine dose less than 60 mg/kg had the lowest PCR-adjusted efficacy (91·7%, 95% CI 86·5-96·9). In Africa, the risk of treatment failure was greatest in malnourished children aged 1-3 years (PCR-adjusted efficacy 94·3%, 95% CI 92·3-96·3). A higher artemether dose was associated with a lower gametocyte presence within 14 days of treatment (adjusted OR 0·92, 95% CI 0·85-0·99; p=0·037 for every 1 mg/kg increase in total artemether dose). INTERPRETATION: The recommended dose of artemether-lumefantrine provides reliable efficacy in most patients with uncomplicated malaria. However, therapeutic efficacy was lowest in young children from Asia and young underweight children from Africa; a higher dose regimen should be assessed in these groups. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Chalmers L, Cross J, Chu CS, Phyo AP, Trip M, Ling C, Carrara V, Watthanaworawit W, Keereecharoen L, Hanboonkunupakarn B et al. 2015. The role of point-of-care tests in antibiotic stewardship for urinary tract infections in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (10), pp. 1281-1289. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Published literature from resource-limited settings is infrequent, although urinary tract infections (UTI) are a common cause of outpatient presentation and antibiotic use. Point-of-care test (POCT) interpretation relates to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. We aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of POCT and their role in UTI antibiotic stewardship. METHODS: One-year retrospective analysis in three clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border of non-pregnant adults presenting with urinary symptoms. POCT (urine dipstick and microscopy) were compared to culture with significant growth classified as pure growth of a single organism >10(5)  CFU/ml. RESULTS: In 247 patients, 82.6% female, the most common symptoms were dysuria (81.2%), suprapubic pain (67.8%) and urinary frequency (53.7%). After excluding contaminated samples, UTI was diagnosed in 52.4% (97/185); 71.1% (69/97) had a significant growth on culture, and >80% of these were Escherichia coli (20.9% produced extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)). Positive urine dipstick (leucocyte esterase ≥1 and/or nitrate positive) compared against positive microscopy (white blood cell >10/HPF, bacteria ≥1/HPF, epithelial cells <5/HPF) had a higher sensitivity (99% vs. 57%) but a lower specificity (47% vs. 89%), respectively. Combined POCT resulted in the best sensitivity (98%) and specificity (81%). Nearly one in ten patients received an antimicrobial to which the organism was not fully sensitive. CONCLUSION: One rapid, cost-effective POCT was too inaccurate to be used alone by healthcare workers, impeding antibiotic stewardship in a high ESBL setting. Appropriate prescribing is improved with concurrent use and concordant results of urine dipstick and microscopy.

Fellmeth G, Plugge E, Paw MK, Charunwatthana P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Pregnant migrant and refugee women's perceptions of mental illness on the Thai-Myanmar border: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 15 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Mental illness is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease, with prevalence highest in low- and middle-income countries. Rates are high in women of childbearing age, especially during pregnancy and the first year post-partum. Migrant and refugee populations are at risk of developing mental illness due to the multiple stressors associated with migration. The Thai-Myanmar border area is home to large populations of migrants and refugees as a result of long-standing conflict, poverty and unemployment in Myanmar. This study aims to explore perceptions of mental illness among pregnant migrants and refugees and antenatal clinic staff living and working along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: Thirteen focus group discussions were conducted with pregnant migrants, pregnant refugees and antenatal clinic staff. Focus groups were held in one large refugee camp and two migrant health clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border. Thematic analysis was used to identify and code themes emerging from the data. RESULTS: A total of 92 pregnant women and 24 antenatal clinic staff participated. Discussions centered around five main themes: symptoms of mental illness; causes of mental illness; suicide; mental illness during pregnancy and the post-partum period; and managing mental illness. Symptoms of mental illness included emotional disturbances, somatic symptoms and socially inappropriate behavior. The main causes were described as current economic and family-related difficulties. Suicide was frequently attributed to shame. Mental illness was thought to be more common during and following pregnancy due to a lack of family support and worries about the future. Talking to family and friends, medication and hospitalization were suggested as means of helping those suffering from mental illness. CONCLUSIONS: Mental illness was recognized as a concept by the majority of participants and there was a general willingness to discuss various aspects of it. More formal and systematic training including the development of assessment tools in the local languages would enable better ascertainment and treatment of mental illness in this population.

Adekunle AI, Pinkevych M, McGready R, Luxemburger C, White LJ, Nosten F, Cromer D, Davenport MP. 2015. Modeling the dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection and hypnozoite reactivation in vivo. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 9 (3), pp. e0003595. | Show Abstract | Read more

The dynamics of Plasmodium vivax infection is characterized by reactivation of hypnozoites at varying time intervals. The relative contribution of new P. vivax infection and reactivation of dormant liver stage hypnozoites to initiation of blood stage infection is unclear. In this study, we investigate the contribution of new inoculations of P. vivax sporozoites to primary infection versus reactivation of hypnozoites by modeling the dynamics of P. vivax infection in Thailand in patients receiving treatment for either blood stage infection alone (chloroquine), or the blood and liver stages of infection (chloroquine + primaquine). In addition, we also analysed rates of infection in a study in Papua New Guinea (PNG) where patients were treated with either artesunate, or artesunate + primaquine. Our results show that up to 96% of the P. vivax infection is due to hypnozoite reactivation in individuals living in endemic areas in Thailand. Similar analysis revealed the around 70% of infections in the PNG cohort were due to hypnozoite reactivation. We show how the age of the cohort, primaquine drug failure, and seasonality may affect estimates of the ratio of primary P. vivax infection to hypnozoite reactivation. Modeling of P. vivax primary infection and hypnozoite reactivation provides important insights into infection dynamics, and suggests that 90-96% of blood stage infections arise from hypnozoite reactivation. Major differences in infection kinetics between Thailand and PNG suggest the likelihood of drug failure in PNG.

Hoogenboom G, Thwin MM, Velink K, Baaijens M, Charrunwatthana P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Quality of intrapartum care by skilled birth attendants in a refugee clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border: a survey using WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 15 (1), pp. 17. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increasing the number of women birthing with skilled birth attendants (SBAs) as one of the strategies to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity must be partnered with a minimum standard of care. This manuscript describes the quality of intrapartum care provided by SBAs in Mae La camp, a low resource, protracted refugee context on the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: In the obstetric department of Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) the standardized WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment tool was adapted to the setting and used: to assess the facility; interview SBAs; collect data from maternal records during a one year period (August 2007 - 2008); and observe practice during labour and childbirth. RESULTS: The facility assessment recorded no 'out of stock' or 'out of date' drugs and supplies, equipment was in operating order and necessary infrastructure e.g. a stand-by emergency car, was present. Syphilis testing was not available. SBA interviews established that danger signs and symptoms were recognized except for sepsis and endometritis. All SBAs acknowledged receiving theoretical and 'hands-on' training and regularly attended deliveries. Scores for the essential elements of antenatal care from maternal records were high (>90%) e.g. providing supplements, recording risk factors as well as regular and correct partogram use. Observed good clinical practice included: presence of a support person; active management of third stage; post-partum monitoring; and immediate and correct neonatal care. Observed incorrect practice included: improper controlled cord traction; inadequate hand washing; an episiotomy rate in nulliparous women 49% (34/70) and low rates 30% (6/20) of newborn monitoring in the first hours following birth. Overall observed complications during labour and birth were low with post-partum haemorrhage being the most common in which case the SBAs followed the protocol but were slow to recognize severity and take action. CONCLUSIONS: In the clinic of SMRU in Mae La refugee camp, SBAs were able to comply with evidence-based guidelines but support to improve quality of care in specific areas is required. The structure of the WHO Safe Motherhood Needs Assessment allowed significant insights into the quality of intrapartum care particularly through direct observation, identifying a clear pathway for quality improvement.

Moore KA, Simpson JA, Thomas KH, Rijken MJ, White LJ, Dwell SLM, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Pukrittayakamee S, Nosten F et al. 2015. Estimating Gestational Age in Late Presenters to Antenatal Care in a Resource-Limited Setting on the Thai-Myanmar Border. PLoS One, 10 (6), pp. e0131025. | Show Abstract | Read more

Estimating gestational age in resource-limited settings is prone to considerable inaccuracy because crown-rump length measured by ultrasound before 14 weeks gestation, the recommended method for estimating gestational age, is often unavailable. Judgements regarding provision of appropriate obstetric and neonatal care are dependent on accurate estimation of gestational age. We determined the accuracy of the Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment, a population-specific symphysis-fundal height formula, and ultrasound biometry performed between 16 and 40 weeks gestation in estimating gestational age using pre-existing data from antenatal clinics of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit on the Thai-Myanmar border, where malaria is endemic. Two cohorts of women who gave birth to live singletons were analysed: 1) 250 women who attended antenatal care between July 2001 and May 2006 and had both ultrasound crown-rump length (reference) and a Dubowitz Gestational Age Assessment; 2) 975 women attending antenatal care between April 2007 and October 2010 who had ultrasound crown-rump length, symphysis-fundal measurements, and an additional study ultrasound (biparietal diameter and head circumference) randomly scheduled between 16 and 40 weeks gestation. Mean difference in estimated newborn gestational age between methods and 95% limits of agreement (LOA) were determined from linear mixed-effects models. The Dubowitz method and the symphysis-fundal height formula performed well in term newborns, but overestimated gestational age of preterms by 2.57 weeks (95% LOA: 0.49, 4.65) and 3.94 weeks (95% LOA: 2.50, 5.38), respectively. Biparietal diameter overestimated gestational age by 0.83 weeks (95% LOA: -0.93, 2.58). Head circumference underestimated gestational age by 0.39 weeks (95% LOA: -2.60, 1.82), especially if measured after 24 weeks gestation. The results of this study can be used to quantify biases associated with alternative methods for estimating gestational age in the absence of ultrasound crown-rump length to inform critical clinical judgements in this population, and as a point of reference elsewhere.

Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intermittent presumptive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: a counter perspective. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 248. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria continues to cause devastation during pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is still no clear strategy to effectively protect pregnant women and countless mothers living in malaria endemic countries are dying every year. The effective prevention of malaria during pregnancy will take much more than the so-called "Global Call for Action" for an intervention (IPTp-SP) that cannot succeed. A new and truly "global" strategy is urgently needed.

Laochan N, Zaloumis SG, Imwong M, Lek-Uthai U, Brockman A, Sriprawat K, Wiladphaingern J, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2015. Intervals to Plasmodium falciparum recurrence after anti-malarial treatment in pregnancy: a longitudinal prospective cohort. Malar J, 14 (1), pp. 221. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum infections adversely affect pregnancy. Anti-malarial treatment failure is common. The objective of this study was to examine the duration of persistent parasite carriage following anti-malarial treatment in pregnancy. METHODS: The data presented here are a collation from previous studies carried out since 1994 in the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) on the Thailand-Myanmar border and performed using the same unique methodology detailed in the Materials and Methods section. Screening for malaria by microscopy is a routine part of weekly antenatal care (ANC) visits and therapeutic responses to anti-malarials were assessed in P. falciparum malaria cases. Women with microscopy confirmed P. falciparum malaria had a PCR blood spot from a finger-prick sample collected. Parasite DNA was extracted from the blood-spot samples using saponin lysis/Chelex extraction method and genotyped using polymorphic segments of MSP1, MSP2 and GLURP. Recurrent infections were classified by genotyping as novel, recrudescent or indeterminate. Factors associated with time to microscopy-detected recrudescence were analysed using multivariable regression techniques. RESULTS: From December 1994 to November 2009, 700 women were treated for P. falciparum and there were 909 recurrent episodes (481 novel and 428 recrudescent) confirmed by PCR genotyping. Most of the recurrences, 85% (770/909), occurred after treatment with quinine monotherapy, artesunate monotherapy or artesunate-clindamycin. The geometric mean number of days to recurrence was significantly shorter in women with recrudescent infection, 24.5 (95%: 23.4-25.8), compared to re-infection, 49.7 (95%: 46.9-52.7), P<0.001. The proportion of recrudescent P. falciparum infections that occurred after days 28, 42 and 63 from the start of treatment was 29.1% (124/428), 13.3% (57/428) and 5.6% (24/428). Recrudescent infections≥100 days after treatment occurred with quinine and mefloquine monotherapy, and quinine+clindamycin and artesunate+atovaquone-proguanil combination therapy. Treatments containing an artemisinin derivative or an intercalated Plasmodium vivax infection increased the geometric mean interval to recrudescence by 1.28-fold (95% CI: 1.09-1.51) and 2.19-fold (1.77-2.72), respectively. Intervals to recrudescence were decreased 0.83-fold (0.73-0.95) if treatment was not fully supervised (suggesting incomplete adherence) and 0.98-fold (0.96-0.99) for each doubling in baseline parasitaemia. CONCLUSIONS: Prolonged time to recrudescence may occur in pregnancy, regardless of anti-malarial treatment. Long intervals to recrudescence are more likely with the use of artemisinin-containing treatments and also observed with intercalated P. vivax infections treated with chloroquine. Accurate determination of drug efficacy in pregnancy requires longer duration of follow-up, preferably until delivery or day 63, whichever occurs last.

Stanley L, Min TH, Than HH, Stolbrink M, McGregor K, Chu C, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2015. A tool to improve competence in the management of emergency patients by rural clinic health workers: a pilot assessment on the Thai-Myanmar border. Confl Health, 9 (1), pp. 11. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been providing health care in remote clinics on the Thai-Myanmar border to refugee and migrant populations since 1986 and 1995, respectively. Clinics are staffed by local health workers with a variety of training and experience. The need for a tool to improve the competence of local health workers in basic emergency assessment and management was recognised by medical faculty after observing the case mix seen at the clinic and reviewing the teaching programme that had been delivered in the past year (Jan-13 to March-14). AIMS: To pilot the development and evaluation of a simple teaching tool to improve competence in the assessment and management of acutely unwell patients by local health workers that can be delivered onsite with minimal resources. METHODS: A structured approach to common emergencies presenting to rural clinics and utilizing equipment available in the clinics was developed. A prospective repeated-measures observed structured clinical examination (OSCE) assessment design was used to score participants in their competence to assess and manage a scenario based 'emergency patient' at baseline, immediately post-course, and 8 weeks after the delivery of the teaching course. The assessment was conducted at 3 clinic sites and staff participation was voluntary. Participants filled out questionnaires on their confidence with different scenario based emergency patients. RESULTS: All staff who underwent the baseline assessment failed to carry out the essential steps in initial emergency assessment and management of an unconscious patient scenario. Following delivery of the teaching session, all groups showed improved competence in both objective assessment and subjective confidence levels. CONCLUSIONS: Structured and practical teaching and learning with minimal theory in this resource limited setting had a positive short-term effect on the competence of individual staff to carry out an initial assessment and manage an acutely unwell patient. Health-worker confidence likewise improved. Workplace assessments are needed to determine if this type of skills training impacts upon mortality or near miss mortality patients at the clinic.

Gilder ME, Zin TW, Wai NS, Ner M, Say PS, Htoo M, Say S, Htay WW, Simpson JA, Pukrittayakamee S et al. 2014. Gestational diabetes mellitus prevalence in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar Border: a clinical report. Glob Health Action, 7 (1), pp. 23887. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Individuals in conflict-affected areas rarely get appropriate care for chronic or non-infectious diseases. The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing worldwide, and new evidence shows conclusively that the negative effects of hyperglycemia occur even at mild glucose elevations and that these negative effects can be attenuated by treatment. Scientific literature on gestational diabetes in refugee camp settings is critically limited. Methods A 75 g 2-hour glucose tolerance test was administered to 228 women attending the antenatal care (ANC) clinic in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border. Prevalence of GDM was determined using the HAPO trial cut-offs [≥92 mg/dL (fasting),≥180 (1 hour), and≥153 (2 hour)] and the WHO criteria [≥126 mg/dL (fasting), and 140 mg/dL (2 hour)]. Results From July 2011 to March 2012, the prevalence of GDM was 10.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.2-14.0] when the cut-off determined by the HAPO trial was applied. Applying the older WHO criteria yielded a prevalence of 6.6% (95% CI 3.3-9.8). Age, parity, and BMI emerged as characteristics that may be significantly associated with GDM in this population. Other risk factors that are commonly used in screening guidelines were not applicable in this diabetes-naïve population. Discussion The prevalence of GDM is lower in this population compared with other populations, but still complicates 10% of pregnancies. New evidence regarding gestational diabetes raises new dilemmas for healthcare providers in resource-poor settings. Efforts to identify and treat patients at risk for adverse outcomes need to be balanced with awareness of the risks and burdens associated with over diagnosis and unnecessary interventions. Screening approaches based on risk factors or using higher cut-off values may help minimize this burden and identify those most likely to benefit from intervention.

McGready R, Prakash JAJ, Benjamin SJ, Watthanaworawit W, Anantatat T, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Ling CL, Tan SO, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M et al. 2014. Pregnancy outcome in relation to treatment of murine typhus and scrub typhus infection: a fever cohort and a case series analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (11), pp. e3327. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of published reports on pregnancy outcome following scrub and murine typhus despite these infections being leading causes of undifferentiated fever in Asia. This study aimed to relate pregnancy outcome with treatment of typhus. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data were analyzed from: i) pregnant women with a diagnosis of scrub and/or murine typhus from a fever cohort studies; ii) case series of published studies in PubMed using the search terms "scrub typhus" (ST), "murine typhus" (MT), "Orientia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia typhi", "rickettsiae", "typhus", or "rickettsiosis"; and "pregnancy", until February 2014 and iii) an unpublished case series. Fever clearance time (FCT) and pregnancy outcome (miscarriage and delivery) were compared to treatment. Poor neonatal outcome was a composite measure for pregnancies sustained to 28 weeks or more of gestation ending in stillbirth, preterm birth, or delivery of a growth restricted or low birth weight newborn. RESULTS: There were 26 women in the fever cohort. MT and ST were clinically indistinguishable apart from two ST patients with eschars. FCTs (median [range] hours) were 25 [16-42] for azithromycin (n=5), 34 [20-53] for antimalarials (n=5) and 92 [6-260] for other antibiotics/supportive therapy (n=16). There were 36.4% (8/22) with a poor neonatal outcome. In 18 years, 97 pregnancies were collated, 82 with known outcomes, including two maternal deaths. Proportions of miscarriage 17.3% (14/81) and poor neonatal outcomes 41.8% (28/67) were high, increasing with longer FCTs (p=0.050, linear trend). Use of azithromycin was not significantly associated with improved neonatal outcomes (p=0.610). CONCLUSION: The published ST and MT world literature amounts to less than 100 pregnancies due to under recognition and under diagnosis. Evidence supporting the most commonly used treatment, azithromycin, is weak. Collaborative, prospective clinical trials in pregnant women are urgently required to reduce the burden of adverse maternal and newborn outcomes and to determine the safety and efficacy of antimicrobial treatment.

McGready R, Wongsaen K, Chu CS, Tun NW, Chotivanich K, White NJ, Nosten F. 2014. Uncomplicated Plasmodium vivax malaria in pregnancy associated with mortality from acute respiratory distress syndrome. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 191. | Show Abstract | Read more

The association between severe malaria and Plasmodium vivax species is contentious. On the Thai-Myanmar border, all pregnant women are followed systematically with active weekly malaria screening. Over a 27-year period of providing antenatal care, 48,983 have been prospectively followed until pregnancy outcome (miscarriage or delivery) and 4,298 women have had P. vivax detected at least once. Reported here is the first known P. vivax-associated death amongst these women. The initial patient presentation was of uncomplicated P. vivax (0.5% parasitaemia) in a term, multigravida woman who responded rapidly to oral artesunate and mefloquine treatment, clearing her blood stage parasites within 48 hours. The patient appeared well, was ambulatory and due to be discharged but became unwell with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring ventilation three days (67 hours) into treatment. Despite induction and delivery of a stillborn foetus, ventilatory requirements increased and the patient died on day 7. The patient had a low body mass index. Sensitive detection with nested PCR confirmed only the presence of P. vivax species and concomitant infections such as tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were also ruled out. The contemporaneous treatment of acute uncomplicated P. vivax and the onset of ARDS on day 3 in this patient implies a possible but unconfirmed association with death in this patient. Assuming this death was caused by P. vivax, the risk of ARDS-related maternal mortality in this setting did not differ significantly between Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax (0.24 per 1,000 (1/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), contrary to the increased risk of maternal mortality from P. falciparum compared to P. vivax, 2.89 per 1,000 (12/4,158) versus 0.23 per 1,000 (1/4,298), P = 0.003.

Lee W-C, Malleret B, Lau Y-L, Mauduit M, Fong M-Y, Cho JS, Suwanarusk R, Zhang R, Albrecht L, Costa FTM et al. 2014. Glycophorin C (CD236R) mediates vivax malaria parasite rosetting to normocytes. Blood, 123 (18), pp. e100-e109. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rosetting phenomenon has been linked to malaria pathogenesis. Although rosetting occurs in all causes of human malaria, most data on this subject has been derived from Plasmodium falciparum. Here, we investigate the function and factors affecting rosette formation in Plasmodium vivax. To achieve this, we used a range of novel ex vivo protocols to study fresh and cryopreserved P vivax (n = 135) and P falciparum (n = 77) isolates from Thailand. Rosetting is more common in vivax than falciparum malaria, both in terms of incidence in patient samples and percentage of infected erythrocytes forming rosettes. Rosetting to P vivax asexual and sexual stages was evident 20 hours postreticulocyte invasion, reaching a plateau after 30 hours. Host ABO blood group, reticulocyte count, and parasitemia were not correlated with P vivax rosetting. Importantly, mature erythrocytes (normocytes), rather than reticulocytes, preferentially form rosetting complexes, indicating that this process is unlikely to directly facilitate merozoite invasion. Although antibodies against host erythrocyte receptors CD235a and CD35 had no effect, Ag-binding fragment against the BRIC 4 region of CD236R significantly inhibited rosette formation. Rosetting assays using CD236R knockdown normocytes derived from hematopoietic stem cells further supports the role of glycophorin C as a receptor in P vivax rosette formation.

Jaroensuk J, Stoesser N, Leimanis ML, Jittamala P, White NJ, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2014. Treatment of suspected hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly (HMS) in pregnancy with mefloquine. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 90 (4), pp. 609-611. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria infections in pregnancy are associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and child. There are few data on hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly, an aberrant immunological response to chronic or recurrent malaria in pregnancy. This retrospective assessment reviewed the impact of mefloquine treatment on pregnant women with suspected hyper-reactive malarial splenomegaly in an area of low malaria transmission in the 1990s, showing significant reductions in spleen size and anemia and anti-malarial antibody titers without any notable negative effect on treated women or their newborns.

Parr M, Dabu CP, Wai NS, Say PS, Ner M, Tun NW, Min A, Gilder ME, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2014. Clinical audit to enhance safe practice of skilled birth attendants for the fetus with nuchal cord: Evidence from a refugee and migrant cohort BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Current evidence for optimal management of fetal nuchal cord detected after the head has birthed supports techniques that avoid ligation of the umbilical cord circulation. Routine audit found frequent unsafe management of nuchal cord by skilled birth attendants (SBAs) in migrant and refugee birth centres on the Thai-Burmese border.Method: The audit cycle was used to enhance safe practice by SBA for the fetus with nuchal cord. In the three birth centres the action phase of the audit cycle was initially carried out by the doctor responsible for the site. Six months later a registered midwife, present six days per week for three months in one birth facility, encouraged SBAs to facilitate birth with an intact umbilical circulation for nuchal cord. Rates of cord ligation before birth were recorded over a 24 month period (1-July-2011 to 30-June-2013) and in-depth interviews and a knowledge survey of the SBAs took place three months after the registered midwife departure.Results: The proportion of births with nuchal cord ligation declined significantly over the four six monthly quarters from 15.9% (178/1123) before the action phase of the audit cycle; to 11.1% (107/966) during the action phase of the audit cycle with the doctors; to 2.4% (28/1182) with the registered midwife; to 0.9% (9/999) from three to nine months after the departure of the registered midwife, (p < 0.001, linear trend). Significant improvements in safe practice were observed at all three SMRU birth facilities. Knowledge of fetal nuchal cord amongst SBAs was sub-optimal and associated with fear and worry despite improved practice. The support of a registered midwife increased confidence of SBAs.Conclusion: The audit cycle and registered midwife interprofessional learning for SBAs led to a significant improvement in safe practice for the fetus with nuchal cord. The authors would encourage this type of learning in organizations with birth facilities on the Thai-Burmese border and in other similar resource limited settings with SBAs. © 2014 Parr et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Chaikitgosiyakul S, Rijken MJ, Muehlenbachs A, Lee SJ, Chaisri U, Viriyavejakul P, Turner GD, Pongponratn E, Nosten F, McGready R. 2014. A morphometric and histological study of placental malaria shows significant changes to villous architecture in both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infection. Malar J, 13 (1), pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy remains a major health problem. Placental malaria infection may cause pathophysiological changes in pregnancy and result in morphological changes to placental villi. Quantitative histomorphological image analysis of placental biopsies was performed to compare placental villous architecture between active or treated placental malaria cases and controls. METHODS: A total of 67 placentas were studied from three clinical groups: control patients who did not have malaria (n = 27), active (n = 14) and treated (n=26) malaria cases, including both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections. Image analysis of histological placental sections was performed using ImageJ software to measure the number and size (area) of terminal villi, perimeter measurement per villus and total perimeter per unit area, and number of capillaries per villus (vascularity). Histological features of placental malaria were scored and these results were correlated with malaria status and clinical outcomes. RESULTS: Villous size correlated with vascularity (p <0.0001) but was inversely correlated with observed villi per unit area, (p = 0.0001). Significantly greater villous area and vascularity was observed in UK controls. Indices of histological malaria infection were significantly greater in active versus treated malaria cases. Active placental malaria cases showed significantly smaller villous area (p <0.0084), vascularity (p <0.0139) and perimeter (p <0.0006) than treated malaria cases or controls, but significantly more villi per unit area (p <0.0001). Villous size in treated malaria cases was significantly larger than active placental malaria cases (p <0.001) and similar to controls. There was a significant relationship between villous number and anaemia at the time of infection (p <0.0034), but not placental weight, birth weight or gestational age at delivery. No differences were found between histology or villous morphology comparing infections with P. falciparum or P. vivax. CONCLUSIONS: These results imply that villous size, perimeter and vascularity are acutely decreased during active placental malaria, decreasing the surface area available for gas exchange per villus. However the increased number of villi per unit area offsets this change and persists after treatment. Histopathological and villous architectural changes may be reversed by early detection and appropriate anti-malarial treatment.

McGready R, Kang J, Watts I, Tyrosvoutis MEG, Torchinsky MB, Htut AM, Tun NW, Keereecharoen L, Wangsing C, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Nosten FH. 2014. Audit of antenatal screening for syphilis and HIV in migrant and refugee women on the Thai-Myanmar border: a descriptive study. F1000Res, 3 pp. 123. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: The antenatal prevalence of syphilis and HIV/AIDS in migrants and refugees is poorly documented. The aim of this study was to audit the first year of routine syphilis screening in the same population and reassess the trends in HIV rates. METHODS: From August 2012 to July 2013, 3600 pregnant women were screened for HIV (ELISA) and syphilis (VDRL with TPHA confirmation) at clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border. RESULTS: Seroprevalence for HIV 0.47% (95% CI 0.30-0.76) (17/3,599), and syphilis 0.39% (95% CI 0.23-0.65) (14/3,592), were low. Syphilis was significantly lower in refugees (0.07% 95% CI 0.01-0.38) (1/1,469), than in migrants (0.61% 95% CI 0.36-1.04) (13/2,123). The three active (VDRL≥1:8 and TPHA reactive) syphilis cases with VDRL titres of 1:32 were easy to counsel and treat. Women with low VDRL titres (>75% were < 1:8) and TPHA reactive results, in the absence of symptoms and both the woman and her husband having only one sexual partner in their lifetime, and the inability to determine the true cause of the positive results presented ethical difficulties for counsellors. CONCLUSION: As HIV and syphilis testing becomes available in more and more settings, the potential impact of false positive results should be considered, especially in populations with low prevalence for these diseases. This uncertainty must be considered in order to counsel patients and partners accurately and safely about the results of these tests, without exposing women to increased risk for abuse or abandonment. Our findings highlight the complexities of counselling patients about these tests and the global need for more conclusive syphilis testing strategies.

Rijken MJ, De Livera AM, Lee SJ, Boel ME, Rungwilailaekhiri S, Wiladphaingern J, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Pukrittayakamee S, Simpson JA et al. 2014. Quantifying low birth weight, preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age effects of malaria in pregnancy: a population cohort study. PLoS One, 9 (7), pp. e100247. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The association between malaria during pregnancy and low birth weight (LBW) is well described. This manuscript aims to quantify the relative contribution of malaria to small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants and preterm birth (PTB) in pregnancies accurately dated by ultrasound on the Thai-Myanmar border at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit. METHODS AND FINDINGS: From 2001 to 2010 in a population cohort of prospectively followed pregnancies, we analyzed all singleton newborns who were live born, normal, weighed in the first hour of life and with a gestational age (GA) between 28+0 and 41+6 weeks. Fractional polynomial regression was used to determine the mean birthweight and standard deviation as functions of GA. Risk differences and factors of LBW and SGA were studied across the range of GA for malaria and non-malaria pregnancies. From 10,264 newborns records, population centiles were created. Women were screened for malaria by microscopy a median of 22 [range 1-38] times and it was detected and treated in 12.6% (1,292) of pregnancies. Malaria was associated with LBW, PTB, and SGA compared to those without malaria. Nearly two-thirds of PTB were classified as LBW (68% (539/789)), most of which 83% (447/539) were not SGA. After GA 39 weeks, 5% (298/5,966) of non-LBW births were identified as SGA. Low body mass index, primigravida, hypertension, smoking and female sex of the newborn were also significantly and independently associated with LBW and SGA consistent with previous publications. CONCLUSIONS: Treated malaria in pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for LBW, PTB, and SGA, of which the latter are most important for infant survival. Using LBW as an endpoint without adjusting for GA incorrectly estimated the effects of malaria in pregnancy. Ultrasound should be used for dating pregnancies and birth weights should be expressed as a function (or adjusted for GA) of GA in future malaria in pregnancy studies.

Gilder ME, Zin TW, Wai NS, Ner M, Say PS, Htoo M, Say S, Htay WW, Simpson JA, Pukrittayakamee S et al. 2014. Gestational diabetes mellitus prevalence in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border: a clinical report. Glob Health Action, 7 (1), pp. 23887. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Individuals in conflict-affected areas rarely get appropriate care for chronic or non-infectious diseases. The prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is increasing worldwide, and new evidence shows conclusively that the negative effects of hyperglycemia occur even at mild glucose elevations and that these negative effects can be attenuated by treatment. Scientific literature on gestational diabetes in refugee camp settings is critically limited. METHODS: A 75 g 2-hour glucose tolerance test was administered to 228 women attending the antenatal care (ANC) clinic in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border. Prevalence of GDM was determined using the HAPO trial cut-offs [≥92 mg/dL (fasting),≥180 (1 hour), and≥153 (2 hour)] and the WHO criteria [≥126 mg/dL (fasting), and 140 mg/dL (2 hour)]. RESULTS: From July 2011 to March 2012, the prevalence of GDM was 10.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.2-14.0] when the cut-off determined by the HAPO trial was applied. Applying the older WHO criteria yielded a prevalence of 6.6% (95% CI 3.3-9.8). Age, parity, and BMI emerged as characteristics that may be significantly associated with GDM in this population. Other risk factors that are commonly used in screening guidelines were not applicable in this diabetes-naïve population. DISCUSSION: The prevalence of GDM is lower in this population compared with other populations, but still complicates 10% of pregnancies. New evidence regarding gestational diabetes raises new dilemmas for healthcare providers in resource-poor settings. Efforts to identify and treat patients at risk for adverse outcomes need to be balanced with awareness of the risks and burdens associated with over diagnosis and unnecessary interventions. Screening approaches based on risk factors or using higher cut-off values may help minimize this burden and identify those most likely to benefit from intervention.

Turner C, Turner P, Hoogenboom G, Aye Mya Thein N, McGready R, Phakaudom K, De Zoysa A, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2013. A three year descriptive study of early onset neonatal sepsis in a refugee population on the Thailand Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Each year an estimated four million neonates die, the majority in the first week of life. One of the major causes of death is sepsis. Proving the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis is difficult, particularly in resource poor settings where the majority of the deaths occur. METHODS: We conducted a three year observational study of clinically diagnosed early onset (<7 days of age) neonatal sepsis (EONS) in infants born to mothers following antenatal care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela camp for displaced persons on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Episodes of EONS were identified using a clinical case definition. Conventional and molecular microbiological techniques were employed in order to determine underlying aetiology. RESULTS: From April 2009 until April 2012, 187 infants had clinical signs of EONS, giving an incidence rate of 44.8 per 1000 live births (95% CI 38.7-51.5). One blood culture was positive for Escherichia coli, E. coli was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid specimen in this infant, and in an additional two infants, by PCR. Therefore, the incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was 0.7 per 1000 live births (95% CI 0.1-2.1). No infants enrolled in study died as a direct result of EONS. CONCLUSION: A low incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was seen in this study, despite a high incidence of clinically diagnosed EONS. The use of molecular diagnostics and nonspecific markers of infection need to be studied in resource poor settings to improve the diagnosis of EONS and rationalise antibiotic use.

Thanapongpichat S, McGready R, Luxemburger C, Day NPJ, White NJ, Nosten F, Snounou G, Imwong M. 2013. Microsatellite genotyping of Plasmodium vivax infections and their relapses in pregnant and non-pregnant patients on the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 275. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax infections in pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and anaemia. This parasites species is also characterised by relapses, erythrocytic infections initiated by the activation of the dormant liver stages, the hypnozoites, to mature. Genotyping of P. vivax using microsatellite markers has opened the way to comparative investigations of parasite populations. The aim of the study was to assess whether there were any differences between the parasites found in pregnant and non-pregnant patients, and/or between the admission infections and recurrent episodes during follow-up. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 18 pregnant and 18 non-pregnant patients, who had at least two recurrent episodes during follow-up, that were recruited in two previous trials on the efficacy of chloroquine treatment of P. vivax infections on the Thai-Myanmar border. DNA was purified and the P. vivax populations genotyped with respect to eight polymorphic microsatellite markers. Analyses of the genetic diversity, multiplicity of infection (MOI), and a comparison of the genotypes in the samples from each patient were conducted. RESULTS: The P. vivax parasites present in the samples exhibited high genetic diversity (6 to 15 distinct allelic variants found for the 8 loci). Similar expected heterozygosity (He) values were obtained for isolates from pregnant (0.837) and non-pregnant patients (0.852). There were modest differences between the MOI values calculated for both admission and recurrence samples from the pregnant patients (2.00 and 2.05, respectively) and the equivalent samples from the non-pregnant patients (1.67 and 1.64, respectively). Furthermore, the mean number of distinct alleles enumerated in the admission samples from the pregnant (6.88) and non-pregnant (7.63) patients were significantly lower than that found in the corresponding recurrent episodes samples (9.25 and 9.63, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The P. vivax populations circulating in inhabitants along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area of low malaria transmission, displayed high genetic diversity. A subtle increase in the multiplicity of P. vivax infections in pregnant patients suggests a higher susceptibility to infection. The higher allelic diversity in the relapse as compared to the admission samples in both patient groups is consistent with the hypothesis that a febrile episode promotes the activation of hypnozoites.

Turner C, Carrara V, Thien NAM, Paw NMK, Rijken M, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Changes in the body weight of term infants, born in the tropics, during the first seven days of life. BMC Pediatr, 13 (1), pp. 93. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Identifying unwell neonates, particularly in the first week of life, is often subjective. If normal values are known, calculating the weight lost or gained from birth weight can be a useful adjunct in the evaluation of the health of a neonate. METHODS: Serial body weights of well, term, breast fed infants who were attending for routine follow up, were recorded at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela Camp for displaced persons on the Thailand Myanmar border. Newborn examination was routine. Weight loss, expressed as percent weight lost from birth weight, and weight gain, expressed as a velocity (g/kg/day), was calculated for the first seven days of life. The results from normal birth weight infants, low birth weight infants (<2.5 kg) and small for gestational age infants (SGA) were examined. RESULTS: In the first week of life there were no significant differences in weight gained or lost across the three study groups. The maximum weight lost was 4.4% (95% CI 4.1 - 4.6%), which occurred on day three. Weight gain ranged from 13 g/kg/day [95% CI 10 - 16] on day four to 18 g/kg/day [95% CI 15 - 20] on days six and seven. CONCLUSIONS: Use of these normal values for weight gain and loss, allows infants falling outside of the expected range (95% CI) to be easily identified and subsequently highlighted as needing further medical review.

Nkhoma SC, Stepniewska K, Nair S, Phyo AP, McGready R, Nosten F, Anderson TJC. 2013. Genetic evaluation of the performance of malaria parasite clearance rate metrics. J Infect Dis, 208 (2), pp. 346-350. | Show Abstract | Read more

Accurate measurement of malaria parasite clearance rates (CRs) following artemisinin (ART) treatment is critical for resistance surveillance and research, and various CR metrics are currently used. We measured 13 CR metrics in 1472 ART-treated hyperparasitemia infections for which 6-hour parasite counts and parasite genotypes (93 single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) were available. We used heritability to evaluate the performance of each metric. Heritability ranged from 0.06 ± 0.06 (SD) for 50% parasite clearance times to 0.67 ± 0.04 (SD) for clearance half-lives estimated from 6-hour parasite counts. These results identify the measures that should be avoided and show that reliable clearance measures can be obtained with abbreviated monitoring protocols.

Carrara VI, Lwin KM, Phyo AP, Ashley E, Wiladphaingern J, Sriprawat K, Rijken M, Boel M, McGready R, Proux S et al. 2013. Malaria burden and artemisinin resistance in the mobile and migrant population on the Thai-Myanmar border, 1999-2011: an observational study. PLoS Med, 10 (3), pp. e1001398. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit has been working on the Thai-Myanmar border for 25 y providing early diagnosis and treatment (EDT) of malaria. Transmission of Plasmodium falciparum has declined, but resistance to artesunate has emerged. We expanded malaria activities through EDT and evaluated the impact over a 12-y period. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Between 1 October 1999 and 30 September 2011, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit increased the number of cross-border (Myanmar side) health facilities from two to 11 and recorded the number of malaria consultations. Changes in malaria incidence were estimated from a cohort of pregnant women, and prevalence from cross-sectional surveys. In vivo and in vitro antimalarial drug efficacy were monitored. Over this period, the number of malaria cases detected increased initially, but then declined rapidly. In children under 5 y, the percentage of consultations due to malaria declined from 78% (95% CI 76-80) (1,048/1,344 consultations) to 7% (95% CI 6.2-7.1) (767/11,542 consultations), p<0.001. The ratio of P. falciparum/P. vivax declined from 1.4 (95% CI 1.3-1.4) to 0.7 (95% CI 0.7-0.8). The case fatality rate was low (39/75,126; 0.05% [95% CI 0.04-0.07]). The incidence of malaria declined from 1.1 to 0.1 episodes per pregnant women-year. The cumulative proportion of P. falciparum decreased significantly from 24.3% (95% CI 21.0-28.0) (143/588 pregnant women) to 3.4% (95% CI 2.8-4.3) (76/2,207 pregnant women), p<0.001. The in vivo efficacy of mefloquine-artesunate declined steadily, with a sharp drop in 2011 (day-42 PCR-adjusted cure rate 42% [95% CI 20-62]). The proportion of patients still slide positive for malaria at day 3 rose from 0% in 2000 to reach 28% (95% CI 13-45) (8/29 patients) in 2011. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the emergence of resistance to artesunate in P. falciparum, the strategy of EDT with artemisinin-based combination treatments has been associated with a reduction in malaria in the migrant population living on the Thai-Myanmar border. Although limited by its observational nature, this study provides useful data on malaria burden in a strategically crucial geographical area. Alternative fixed combination treatments are needed urgently to replace the failing first-line regimen of mefloquine and artesunate. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.

Turner C, Carrara V, Aye Mya Thein N, Chit Mo Mo Win N, Turner P, Bancone G, White NJ, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Neonatal intensive care in a Karen refugee camp: a 4 year descriptive study. PLoS One, 8 (8), pp. e72721. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A third of all deaths in children aged <5 years occur in the neonatal period. Neonatal intensive care is often considered too complex and expensive to be implemented in resource poor settings. Consequently the reductions that have been made in infant mortality in the poorest countries have not been made in the neonatal period. This manuscript describes the activities surrounding the introduction of special care baby unit (SCBU) in a refugee setting and the resulting population impact. METHODS: A SCBU was developed in Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border. This unit comprised of a dedicated area, basic equipment, drugs and staff training. Training was built around neonatal guidelines, comprising six clinical steps: recognition, resuscitation, examination, supportive medical care, specialised medical care, and counselling of parents with sick newborns. RESULTS: From January 2008 until December 2011, 952 infants were admitted to SCBU. The main admission diagnoses were early onset neonatal sepsis, jaundice and prematurity. Early prematurity (<34 weeks) carried the highest risk of mortality (OR 9.5, 95% CI 5.4-16.5, p<0.001). There was a significant decrease in mortality from 19.3% (2008) to 4.8% (2011) among the infants admitted for prematurity (p=0.03). The neonatal mortality in Maela camp as a whole declined by 51% from 21.8 to 10.7 deaths per 1000 live births over the corresponding period (p=0.04). Staff expressed more confidence in their ability to take care of neonates and there was a more positive attitude towards premature infants. CONCLUSION: Neonatal mortality can be reduced in a resource poor setting by introduction of a simple low cost unit specialising in care of sick neonates and run by local health workers following adequate training. Training in recognition and provision of simple interventions at a high standard can increase staff confidence and reduce fatalistic attitudes towards premature neonates.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Leenstra T, Phyo AP, Pimanpanarak M, Keereecharoen NL, Proux S, Laochan N, Imwong M, Singhasivanon P et al. 2013. Malaria in the post-partum period; a prospective cohort study. PLoS One, 8 (3), pp. e57890. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown a prolonged or increased susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. A matched cohort study was conducted to evaluate prospectively the susceptibility to malaria of post-partum women in an area where P.falciparum and P.vivax are prevalent. METHODS: In an area of low seasonal malaria transmission on the Thai-Myanmar border pregnant women attending antenatal clinics were matched to a non-pregnant, non-post-partum control and followed up prospectively until 12 weeks after delivery. RESULTS: Post-partum women (n = 744) experienced significantly less P.falciparum episodes than controls (hazard ratio (HR) 0.39 (95%CI 0.21-0.72) p = 0.003) but significantly more P.vivax (HR 1.34 (1.05-1.72) p = 0.018). The reduced risk of falciparum malaria was accounted for by reduced exposure, whereas a history of P.vivax infection during pregnancy was a strong risk factor for P.vivax in post-partum women (HR 13.98 (9.13-21.41), p<0.001). After controlling for effect modification by history of P.vivax, post-partum women were not more susceptible to P.vivax than controls (HR: 0.33 (0.21-0.51), p<0.001). Genotyping of pre-and post-partum infections [Formula in text] showed that each post-partum P.falciparum was a newly acquired infection. CONCLUSIONS: In this area of low seasonal malaria transmission post-partum women were less likely to develop falciparum malaria but more likely to develop vivax malaria than controls. This was explained by reduced risk of exposure and increased risk of relapse, respectively. There was no evidence for altered susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. The treatment of vivax malaria during and immediately after pregnancy needs to be improved.

De Beaudrap P, Turyakira E, White LJ, Nabasumba C, Tumwebaze B, Muehlenbachs A, Guérin PJ, Boum Y, McGready R, Piola P. 2013. Impact of malaria during pregnancy on pregnancy outcomes in a Ugandan prospective cohort with intensive malaria screening and prompt treatment. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 139. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy (MiP) is a major public health problem in endemic areas of sub-Saharan Africa and has important consequences on birth outcome. Because MiP is a complex phenomenon and malaria epidemiology is rapidly changing, additional evidence is still required to understand how best to control malaria. This study followed a prospective cohort of pregnant women who had access to intensive malaria screening and prompt treatment to identify factors associated with increased risk of MiP and to analyse how various characteristics of MiP affect delivery outcomes. METHODS: Between October 2006 and May 2009, 1,218 pregnant women were enrolled in a prospective cohort. After an initial assessment, they were screened weekly for malaria. At delivery, blood smears were obtained from the mother, placenta, cord and newborn. Multivariate analyses were performed to analyse the association between mothers' characteristics and malaria risk, as well as between MiP and birth outcome, length and weight at birth. This study is a secondary analysis of a trial registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00495508. RESULTS: Overall, 288/1,069 (27%) mothers had 345 peripheral malaria infections. The risk of peripheral malaria was higher in mothers who were younger, infected with HIV, had less education, lived in rural areas or reported no bed net use, whereas the risk of placental infection was associated with more frequent malaria infections and with infection during late pregnancy. The risk of pre-term delivery and of miscarriage was increased in mothers infected with HIV, living in rural areas and with MiP occurring within two weeks of delivery.In adjusted analysis, birth weight but not length was reduced in babies of mothers exposed to MiP (-60 g, 95%CI: -120 to 0 for at least one infection and -150 g, 95%CI: -280 to -20 for >1 infections). CONCLUSIONS: In this study, the timing, parasitaemia level and number of peripherally-detected malaria infections, but not the presence of fever, were associated with adverse birth outcomes. Hence, prompt malaria detection and treatment should be offered to pregnant women regardless of symptoms or other preventive measures used during pregnancy, and with increased focus on mothers living in remote areas.

White AL, Carrara VI, Paw MK, Malika, Dahbu C, Gross MM, Stuetz W, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2012. High initiation and long duration of breastfeeding despite absence of early skin-to-skin contact in Karen refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border: a mixed methods study. Int Breastfeed J, 7 (1), pp. 19. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Early skin-to-skin contact (SSC) after birth is recommended as part of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) baby friendly health initiative to promote optimum breastfeeding. This paper reports rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration in a low resource environment, where early SSC is not practised, and explores views of pregnant women and midwives surrounding breastfeeding and swaddling. METHODS: Data from records from a single hospital on the Thai-Myanmar border where refugee women gave birth during a one-year period (2010) were used to determine breastfeeding initiation rates and the time of the first breastfeed, and duration of breastfeeding of the previous alive child in multigravidae. Focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted to obtain information from pregnant women attending antenatal care about their intended or previous duration of breastfeeding and views on breastfeeding. Interviews with local midwives explored reasons for high rates of breastfeeding in this setting and the practice of newborn swaddling. RESULTS: Of 1404 live births in 2010 in Maela refugee camp there were 982 evaluable mother-newborn pairs, including 80 infants born before 37 weeks gestation. Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and exclusive breastfeeding at discharge in term mother-newborn pairs was 91.2% (823/902) and 99.3% (896/902); and before 37 weeks gestation, 48.8% (39/80) and 98.8% (79/80). Reported duration of previous breastfeeding was 19 (range 2 to 72) months.During FGD all primigravidae (n = 17) intended to breastfeed and all multigravidae (n = 33) had previously breastfed; expected or previous duration of feeding was for more than one year or longer. The major theme identified during FGD was breastfeeding is "good". Women stated their intention to breastfeed with certainty. This certainty was echoed during the interviews with midwifery staff. SSC requires a delay in early swaddling that in Karen people, with animistic beliefs, could risk loss of the spirit of the newborn or attract malevolent spirits. CONCLUSIONS: In a population with a strong culture of breastfeeding and robust breastfeeding practices, high rates of initiation and duration of breastfeeding were found despite a lack of early skin-to-skin contact. Local preferences, traditions and practices that protect, support and maintain high rates of breastfeeding should be promoted.

Fowkes FJI, McGready R, Johnstone-Robertson S, Nosten F, Beeson JG. 2013. Antibody boosting and longevity following tetanus immunization during pregnancy. Clin Infect Dis, 56 (5), pp. 749-750. | Read more

Nkhoma SC, Nair S, Al-Saai S, Ashley E, McGready R, Phyo AP, Nosten F, Anderson TJC. 2013. Population genetic correlates of declining transmission in a human pathogen. Mol Ecol, 22 (2), pp. 273-285. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pathogen control programs provide a valuable, but rarely exploited, opportunity to directly examine the relationship between population decline and population genetics. We investigated the impact of an ~12-fold decline in transmission on the population genetics of Plasmodium falciparum infections (n = 1731) sampled from four clinics on the Thai-Burma border over 10 years and genotyped using 96 genome-wide SNPs. The most striking associated genetic change was a reduction in the frequency of infections containing multiple parasite genotypes from 63% in 2001 to 14% in 2010 (P = 3 × 10(-15)). Two measures of the clonal composition of populations (genotypic richness and the β-parameter of the Pareto distribution) declined over time as more people were infected by parasites with identical multilocus genotypes, consistent with increased selfing and a reduction in the rate at which multilocus genotypes are broken apart by recombination. We predicted that the reduction in transmission, multiple clone carriage and outbreeding would be mirrored by an increased influence of genetic drift. However, geographical differentiation and expected heterozygosity remained stable across the sampling period. Furthermore, N(e) estimates derived from allele frequencies fluctuation between years remained high (582 to ∞) and showed no downward trend. These results demonstrate how genetic data can compliment epidemiological assessments of infectious disease control programs. The temporal changes in a single declining population parallel to those seen in comparisons of parasite genetics in regions of differing endemicity, strongly supporting the notion that reduced opportunity for outbreeding is the key driver of these patterns.

Hwang J, Jaroensuk J, Leimanis ML, Russell B, McGready R, Day N, Snounou G, Nosten F, Imwong M. 2012. Long-term storage limits PCR-based analyses of malaria parasites in archival dried blood spots. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 339. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Blood samples collected in epidemiological and clinical investigations and then stored, often at room temperature, as blood spots dried on a filter paper have become one of the most popular source of material for further molecular analyses of malaria parasites. The dried blood spots are often archived so that they can be used for further retrospective investigations of parasite prevalence, or as new genetic markers come to the fore. However, the suitability of the template obtained from dried blood spots that have been stored for long periods for DNA amplification is not known. METHODS: DNA from 267 archived blood spots collected over a period of 12 years from persons with microscopically confirmed Plasmodium falciparum infection was purified by one of two methods, Chelex and Qiagen columns. These templates were subjected to highly sensitive nested PCR amplification targeting three parasite loci that differ in length and/or copy number. RESULTS: When a 1.6 kb fragment of the parasites' small subunit ribosomal RNA was targeted (primary amplification), the efficiency of P. falciparum detection decreased in samples archived for more than six years, reaching very low levels for those stored for more than 10 years. Positive amplification was generally obtained more often with Qiagen-extracted templates. P. falciparum could be detected in 32 of the 40 negative Qiagen-extracted templates when a microsatellite of about 180 bp was targeted. The remaining eight samples gave a positive amplification when a small region of 238 bp of the higher copy number (20 to 200) mitochondrial genome was targeted. CONCLUSIONS: The average length of DNA fragments that can be recovered from dried blood spots decreases with storage time. Recovery of the DNA is somewhat improved, especially in older samples, by the use of a commercial DNA purification column, but targets larger than 1.5 kb are unlikely to be present 10 years after the initial blood collection, when the average length of the DNA fragments present is likely to be around a few hundred bp. In conclusion, the utility of archived dried blood spots for molecular analyses decreases with storage time.

Ezard N, Thiptharakun S, Nosten F, Rhodes T, McGready R. 2012. Risky alcohol use among reproductive-age men, not women, in Mae La refugee camp, Thailand, 2009. Confl Health, 6 (1), pp. 7. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Globally, alcohol use contributes to close to 4% of all deaths and is a leading cause of ill health and premature death among men of reproductive age. Problem alcohol use is an unaddressed public health issue among populations displaced by conflict. Assessing the magnitude of the problem and identifying affected groups and risk behaviours is difficult in mobile and unstable populations. METHODS: From 15-28 December 2009 we conducted a simple rapid screening test of risky alcohol use using the single item modified Short Assessment Screening Questionnaire (mSASQ) by all women currently enrolled in the antenatal care clinic in Mae La refugee camp, a long standing displaced setting on the Thai Burma border. Women self- reported and gave a secondary report of their male partners. Gender differences in alcohol use were further explored in semi-structured interviews with camp residents on attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs regarding alcohol and analysed thematically. RESULTS: Of 636 women screened in the antenatal clinic, almost none (0.2%, 95CI 0.0-0.9%) reported risky alcohol use prior to pregnancy, whereas around a quarter (24.4%, 95CI 21.2-27.9%) reported risky alcohol use by their male partners. Interviews with 97 camp residents described strong social controls against women's alcohol use and men's drinking to intoxication, despite a dominant perception that the social context of life in displacement promoted alcohol use and that controls are loosening. CONCLUSIONS: As a stigmatised behaviour, alcohol use is difficult to assess, particularly in the context of highly mobile adult male populations: the simple assessment methods here show that it is feasible to obtain adequate data for the purposes of intervention design. The data suggest that risky drinking is common and normalised among men, but that the population may have been partially protected from rapid rises in problem alcohol use observed in nation-wide data from Thailand. The changing social context contains vulnerabilities that might promote problem alcohol use: further investigation, ongoing monitoring, and development of targeted interventions are warranted.

Fowkes FJI, McGready R, Cross NJ, Hommel M, Simpson JA, Elliott SR, Richards JS, Lackovic K, Viladpai-Nguen J, Narum D et al. 2012. New insights into acquisition, boosting, and longevity of immunity to malaria in pregnant women. J Infect Dis, 206 (10), pp. 1612-1621. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: How antimalarial antibodies are acquired and maintained during pregnancy and boosted after reinfection with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax is unknown. METHODS: A nested case-control study of 467 pregnant women (136 Plasmodium-infected cases and 331 uninfected control subjects) in northwestern Thailand was conducted. Antibody levels to P. falciparum and P. vivax merozoite antigens and the pregnancy-specific PfVAR2CSA antigen were determined at enrollment (median 10 weeks gestation) and throughout pregnancy until delivery. RESULTS: Antibodies to P. falciparum and P. vivax were highly variable over time, and maintenance of high levels of antimalarial antibodies involved highly dynamic responses resulting from intermittent exposure to infection. There was evidence of boosting with each successive infection for P. falciparum responses, suggesting the presence of immunological memory. However, the half-lives of Plasmodium antibody responses were relatively short, compared with measles (457 years), and much shorter for merozoite responses (0.8-7.6 years), compared with PfVAR2CSA responses (36-157 years). The longer half-life of antibodies to PfVAR2CSA suggests that antibodies acquired in one pregnancy may be maintained to protect subsequent pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: These findings may have important practical implications for predicting the duration of vaccine-induced responses by candidate antigens and supports the development of malaria vaccines to protect pregnant women.

Turner P, Willemse C, Phakaudom K, Zin TW, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Aeromonas spp. bacteremia in pregnant women, Thailand-Myanmar border, 2011. Emerg Infect Dis, 18 (9), pp. 1522-1523. | Read more

Tarning J, Chotsiri P, Jullien V, Rijken MJ, Bergstrand M, Cammas M, McGready R, Singhasivanon P, Day NPJ, White NJ et al. 2012. Population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine in women with Plasmodium vivax malaria during and after pregnancy. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (11), pp. 5764-5773. | Show Abstract | Read more

Amodiaquine is effective for the treatment of Plasmodium vivax malaria, but there is little information on the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine in pregnant women with malaria. This study evaluated the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and its biologically active metabolite, desethylamodiaquine, in pregnant women with P. vivax infection and again after delivery. Twenty-seven pregnant women infected with P. vivax malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border were treated with amodiaquine monotherapy (10 mg/kg/day) once daily for 3 days. Nineteen women, with and without P. vivax infections, returned to receive the same amodiaquine dose postpartum. Nonlinear mixed-effects modeling was used to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine plasma concentrations were described accurately by lagged first-order absorption with a two-compartment disposition model followed by a three-compartment disposition of desethylamodiaquine under the assumption of complete in vivo conversion. Body weight was implemented as an allometric function on all clearance and volume parameters. Amodiaquine clearance decreased linearly with age, and absorption lag time was reduced in pregnant patients. Recurrent malaria infections in pregnant women were modeled with a time-to-event model consisting of a constant-hazard function with an inhibitory effect of desethylamodiaquine. Amodiaquine treatment reduced the risk of recurrent infections from 22.2% to 7.4% at day 35. In conclusion, pregnancy did not have a clinically relevant impact on the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine or desethylamodiaquine. No dose adjustments are required in pregnancy.

Weerasuriya CK, Tan SO, Alexakis LC, Set AK, Rijken MJ, Martyn P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Evaluation of a surgical service in the chronic phase of a refugee camp: an example from the Thai-Myanmar border. Confl Health, 6 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: BACKGROUND: Published literature on surgical care in refugees tends to focus on the acute ('emergent') phase of crisis situations. Here we posit that there is a substantial burden of non-acute morbidity amenable to surgical intervention among refugees in the 'chronic' phase of crisis situations. We describe surgery for non-acute conditions undertaken at Mae La Refugee Camp, Thailand over a two year period. METHODS: Surgery was performed by a general surgeon in a dedicated room of Mae La Refugee Camp over May 2005 to April 2007 with minimal instruments and staff. We obtained the equivalent costs for these procedures if they were done at the local Thai District General Hospital. We also acquired the list (and costs) of acute surgical referrals to the District General Hospital over September 2006 to December 2007. RESULTS: 855 operations were performed on 847 patients in Mae La Refugee Camp (60.1% sterilizations, 13.3% 'general surgery', 5.6% 'gynaecological surgery', 17.4% 'mass excisions', 3.5% 'other'). These procedures were worth 2,207,500 THB (75,683.33 USD) at costs quoted by the District General Hospital. Total cost encountered for these operations (including staff costs, consumables, anaesthesia and capital costs such as construction) equaled 1,280,000 THB (42,666 USD). Pertaining to acute surgical referrals to District General hospital: we estimate that 356,411.96 THB (11,880.40 USD) worth of operations over 14 months were potentially preventable if these cases had been operated at an earlier, non-acute state in Mae La Refugee Camp. CONCLUSIONS: A considerable burden of non-acute surgical morbidity exists in 'chronic' refugee situations. An in-house general surgical service is found to be cost-effective in relieving some of this burden and should be considered by policy makers as a viable intervention.

Chue AL, Moore RL, Cavey A, Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Comparability of tympanic and oral mercury thermometers at high ambient temperatures. BMC Res Notes, 5 (1), pp. 356. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Body temperature can be measured in seconds with tympanic thermometers as opposed to minutes with mercury ones. The aim of this study was to compare tympanic and oral mercury thermometer measurements under high ambient field temperatures. RESULTS: Tympanic temperature (measured thrice by 3 operators) was compared to oral temperature measured once with a mercury-in-glass thermometer in 201 patients (aged ≥5 years), on the Thai-Myanmar border. Ambient temperature was measured with an electronic thermo-hygrometer. Participants had a mean [min-max] age of 27 [5-60] years and 42% (84) were febrile by oral thermometer. The mean difference in the mercury and tympanic temperature measurement for all observers/devices was 0.09 (95%CI 0.07-0.12)°C and intra-class correlation for repeat tympanic measurements was high (≥0.97) for each observer. Deviations in tympanic temperatures were not related to ambient temperature. CONCLUSION: Clinically significant differences were not observed between oral and tympanic temperature measurements at high ambient temperatures in a rural tropical setting.

Rijken MJ, de Wit MC, Mulder EJH, Kiricharoen S, Karunkonkowit N, Paw T, Visser GHA, McGready R, Nosten FH, Pistorius LR. 2012. Effect of malaria in pregnancy on foetal cortical brain development: a longitudinal observational study. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 222. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy has a negative impact on foetal growth, but it is not known whether this also affects the foetal nervous system. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of malaria on foetal cortex development by three-dimensional ultrasound. METHODS: Brain images were acquired using a portable ultrasound machine and a 3D ultrasound transducer. All recordings were analysed, blinded to clinical data, using the 4D view software package. The foetal supra-tentorial brain volume was determined and cortical development was qualitatively followed by scoring the appearance and development of six sulci. Multilevel analysis was used to study brain volume and cortical development in individual foetuses. RESULTS: Cortical grading was possible in 161 out of 223 (72%) serial foetal brain images in pregnant women living in a malaria endemic area. There was no difference between foetal cortical development or brain volumes at any time in pregnancy between women with immediately treated malaria infections and non-infected pregnancies. CONCLUSION: The percentage of images that could be graded was similar to other neuro-sonographic studies. Maternal malaria does not have a gross effect on foetal brain development, at least in this population, which had access to early detection and effective treatment of malaria.

Adam I, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Mahgoub H, McGready R, Nosten F. 2012. Pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in pregnant women in Sudan with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (1), pp. 35-40. | Show Abstract | Read more

The pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine were investigated in 12 pregnant and 12 well-matched, non-pregnant women receiving a three-day oral fixed dose combination regimen of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine for treatment of uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum at New Halfa Hospital in eastern Sudan. Frequent venous plasma samples were drawn from the patients over a 63-day period and a complete concentration-time profile was collected for 7 pregnant and 11 non-pregnant patients. Piperaquine was quantified using a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry method. Pregnant women had a significantly higher total drug exposure (median area under the curve [range] = 1,770 [1,200-5,600] hr × ng/mL versus 858 [325-2,370] hr × ng/mL; P = 0.018) and longer time to maximal concentration (4.00 [1.50-4.03] hr versus 1.50 [0.500-8.00] hr; P = 0.02) after the first dose compared with non-pregnant women. There was no other significant difference observed in piperaquine pharmacokinetics between pregnant and non-pregnant women, including no difference in total drug exposure or maximum concentration. The overall pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine in this study were consistent with previously published reports in non-pregnant patients.

Harrington W, McGready R, Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, Nosten F, Duffy P. 2012. Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine: the times they are a-changin'. Clin Infect Dis, 55 (7), pp. 1025-1026. | Read more

Muehlenbachs A, Nabasumba C, McGready R, Turyakira E, Tumwebaze B, Dhorda M, Nyehangane D, Nalusaji A, Nosten F, Guerin PJ, Piola P. 2012. Artemether-lumefantrine to treat malaria in pregnancy is associated with reduced placental haemozoin deposition compared to quinine in a randomized controlled trial. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 150. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Data on efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) to treat Plasmodium falciparum during pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa is scarce. A recent open label, randomized controlled trial in Mbarara, Uganda demonstrated that artemether-lumefantrine (AL) is not inferior to quinine to treat uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy. Haemozoin can persist in the placenta following clearance of parasites, however there is no data whether ACT can influence the amount of haemozoin or the dynamics of haemozoin clearance. METHODS: Women attending antenatal clinics with weekly screening and positive blood smears by microscopy were eligible to participate in the trial and were followed to delivery. Placental haemozoin deposition and inflammation were assessed by histology. To determine whether AL was associated with increased haemozoin clearance, population haemozoin clearance curves were calculated based on the longitudinal data. RESULTS: Of 152 women enrolled in each arm, there were 97 and 98 placental biopsies obtained in the AL and quinine arms, respectively. AL was associated with decreased rates of moderate to high grade haemozoin deposition (13.3% versus 25.8%), which remained significant after correcting for gravidity, time of infection, re-infection, and parasitaemia. The amount of haemozoin proportionately decreased with the duration of time between treatment and delivery and this decline was greater in the AL arm. Haemozoin was not detected in one third of biopsies and the prevalence of inflammation was low, reflecting the efficacy of antenatal care with early detection and prompt treatment of malaria. CONCLUSIONS: Placental haemozoin deposition was decreased in the AL arm demonstrating a relationship between pharmacological properties of drug to treat antenatal malaria and placental pathology at delivery. Histology may be considered an informative outcome for clinical trials to evaluate malaria control in pregnancy. TRIAL REGISTRATION: REGISTRY: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00495508.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Brabin BJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. The epidemiology of postpartum malaria: a systematic review. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 114. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria than their non-pregnant counterparts. Less is known about the risk of malaria in the postpartum period. The epidemiology of postpartum malaria was systematically reviewed. Eleven articles fitted the inclusion criteria. Of the 10 studies that compared malaria data from the postpartum period with pregnancy data, nine studies suggested that the risk for malaria infection decreased after delivery. All three studies that compared postpartum data with non-pregnant non-postpartum women concluded that the risk did not return to pre-pregnancy levels immediately after delivery. The results of this review have to be carefully interpreted, as the majority of studies were not designed to study postpartum malaria, and there was large variability in study designs and reported outcomes. Current evidence suggests an effort should be made to detect and radically cure malaria during pregnancy so that women do not enter the postpartum period with residual parasites.

Phyo AP, Nkhoma S, Stepniewska K, Ashley EA, Nair S, McGready R, ler Moo C, Al-Saai S, Dondorp AM, Lwin KM et al. 2012. Emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria on the western border of Thailand: a longitudinal study. Lancet, 379 (9830), pp. 1960-1966. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has arisen in western Cambodia. A concerted international effort is underway to contain artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, but containment strategies are dependent on whether resistance has emerged elsewhere. We aimed to establish whether artemisinin resistance has spread or emerged on the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border. METHODS: In malaria clinics located along the northwestern border of Thailand, we measured six hourly parasite counts in patients with uncomplicated hyperparasitaemic falciparum malaria (≥4% infected red blood cells) who had been given various oral artesunate-containing regimens since 2001. Parasite clearance half-lives were estimated and parasites were genotyped for 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms. FINDINGS: 3202 patients were studied between 2001 and 2010. Parasite clearance half-lives lengthened from a geometric mean of 2·6 h (95% CI 2·5-2·7) in 2001, to 3·7 h (3·6-3·8) in 2010, compared with a mean of 5·5 h (5·2-5·9) in 119 patients in western Cambodia measured between 2007 and 2010. The proportion of slow-clearing infections (half-life ≥6·2 h) increased from 0·6% in 2001, to 20% in 2010, compared with 42% in western Cambodia between 2007 and 2010. Of 1583 infections genotyped, 148 multilocus parasite genotypes were identified, each of which infected between two and 13 patients. The proportion of variation in parasite clearance attributable to parasite genetics increased from 30% between 2001 and 2004, to 66% between 2007 and 2010. INTERPRETATION: Genetically determined artemisinin resistance in P falciparum emerged along the Thailand-Myanmar border at least 8 years ago and has since increased substantially. At this rate of increase, resistance will reach rates reported in western Cambodia in 2-6 years. FUNDING: The Wellcome Trust and National Institutes of Health.

Rijken MJ, Mulder EJH, Papageorghiou AT, Thiptharakun S, Wah N, Paw TK, Dwell SLM, Visser GHA, Nosten FH, McGready R. 2012. Quality of ultrasound biometry obtained by local health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 40 (2), pp. 151-157. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: In a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, accurate dating of pregnancy relies on ultrasound measurements obtained by locally trained health workers. The aim of this study was to substantiate the accuracy of fetal biometry measurements performed by locally trained health workers by comparing derived reference equations with those published for Asian and European hospitals. METHODS: This prospective observational study included 1090 women who had a dating crown-rump length (CRL) scan and one study-appointed ultrasound biometry scan between 16 and 40 weeks of gestation. The average of two measurements of each of biparietal diameter, head circumference, abdominal circumference and femur length was used in a polynomial regression model for the mean and SD against gestational age (GA). The biometry equations obtained were compared with published equations of professional sonographers from Asian and European hospitals by evaluation of the SD and Z-scores of differences between models. RESULTS: Reference equations of biometric parameters were found to fit cubic polynomial models. The observed SD values, for any given GA, of fetal biometric measurements obtained by locally trained health workers were lower than those previously reported by centers with professional sonographers. For nearly the entire GA range considered, the mean values of the Asian and European equations for all four biometric measurements were within the 90% expected range (mean ± 1.645 SD) of our equations. CONCLUSION: Locally trained health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border can obtain measurements that are associated with low SD values and within the normal limits of published Asian and European equations. The fact that the SD values were lower than in other studies may be explained by the use of the average of two measurements, CRL dating or motivation of the locally trained sonographers.

Tarning J, Rijken MJ, McGready R, Phyo AP, Hanpithakpong W, Day NPJ, White NJ, Nosten F, Lindegardh N. 2012. Population pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 56 (4), pp. 1997-2007. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria. The pharmacokinetic properties of antimalarial drugs are often affected by pregnancy, resulting in lower drug concentrations and a consequently higher risk of treatment failure. The objective of this study was to evaluate the population pharmacokinetic properties of piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Twenty-four pregnant and 24 matched nonpregnant women on the Thai-Myanmar boarder were treated with a standard fixed oral 3-day treatment, and venous plasma concentrations of both drugs were measured frequently for pharmacokinetic evaluation. Population pharmacokinetics were evaluated with nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The main pharmacokinetic finding was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but reduced exposure to dihydroartemisinin in pregnant compared to nonpregnant women with uncomplicated malaria. Piperaquine was best described by a three-compartment disposition model with a 45% higher elimination clearance and a 47% increase in relative bioavailability in pregnant women compared with nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was an unaltered total exposure to piperaquine but a shorter terminal elimination half-life. Dihydroartemisinin was best described by a one-compartment disposition model with a 38% lower relative bioavailability in pregnant women than nonpregnant women. The resulting net effect of pregnancy was a decreased total exposure to dihydroartemisinin. The shorter terminal elimination half-life of piperaquine and lower exposure to dihydroartemisinin will shorten the posttreatment prophylactic effect and might affect cure rates. The clinical impact of these pharmacokinetic findings in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria needs to be evaluated in larger series.

Rijken MJ, Moroski WE, Kiricharoen S, Karunkonkowit N, Stevenson G, Ohuma EO, Noble JA, Kennedy SH, McGready R, Papageorghiou AT, Nosten FH. 2012. Effect of malaria on placental volume measured using three-dimensional ultrasound: a pilot study. Malar J, 11 (1), pp. 5. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The presence of malaria parasites and histopathological changes in the placenta are associated with a reduction in birth weight, principally due to intrauterine growth restriction. The aim of this study was to examine the feasibility of studying early pregnancy placental volumes using three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound in a malaria endemic area, as a small volume in the second trimester may be an indicator of intra-uterine growth restriction and placental insufficiency. METHODS: Placenta volumes were acquired using a portable ultrasound machine and a 3D ultrasound transducer and estimated using the Virtual Organ Computer-aided AnaLysis (VOCAL) image analysis software package. Intra-observer reliability and limits of agreement of the placenta volume measurements were calculated. Polynomial regression models for the mean and standard deviation as a function of gestational age for the placental volumes of uninfected women were created and tested. Based on these equations each measurement was converted into a z -score. The z-scores of the placental volumes of malaria infected and uninfected women were then compared. RESULTS: Eighty-four women (uninfected = 65; infected = 19) with a posterior placenta delivered congenitally normal, live born, single babies. The mean placental volumes in the uninfected women were modeled to fit 5th, 10th, 50th, 90th and 95th centiles for 14-24 weeks' gestation. Most placenta volumes in the infected women were below the 50th centile for gestational age; most of those with Plasmodium falciparum were below the 10th centile. The 95% intra-observer limits of agreement for first and second measurements were ± 37.0 mL and ± 25.4 mL at 30 degrees and 15 degrees rotation respectively. CONCLUSION: The new technique of 3D ultrasound volumetry of the placenta may be useful to improve our understanding of the pathophysiological constraints on foetal growth caused by malaria infection in early pregnancy.

Thanapongpichat S, Imwong M, McGready R, Day NPJ, Nosten F, Snounou G, White NJ. 2012. Microsatellite characterization of Plasmodium vivax in pregnant women on the Thai–Myanmar border Malaria Journal, 11 (Suppl 1), pp. P137-P137. | Read more

McGready R, Paw MK, Wiladphaingern J, Min AM, Carrara VI, Moore KA, Pukrittayakamee S, Nosten FH. 2012. Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal mortality in the extreme preterm birth window of gestation in a limited-resource setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: a population cohort study Wellcome Open Research, 1 pp. 32-32. | Read more

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Stuetz W, Carrara VI, McGready R, Lee SJ, Erhardt JG, Breuer J, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2012. Micronutrient status in lactating mothers before and after introduction of fortified flour: Cross-sectional surveys in Maela refugee camp European Journal of Nutrition, 51 (4), pp. 425-434. | Show Abstract | Read more

Background Deficiency of micronutrients is common in refugee populations. Objectives Identify deficiencies and whether provided supplements and wheat flour fortified with 10 micronutrients impacts upon status among breast-feeding women from Maela refugee camp. Methods Two sequential cross-sectional studies were conducted in different groups of lactating mothers at 12 weeks postpartum. The first survey was before and the second 4-5 months after micronutrient fortified flour (MFF) had been provided to the camp (in addition to the regular food basket). Iron status and micronutrients were measured in serum, whole blood, and in breast milk samples. Results Iron and zinc deficiency and anemia were highly prevalent while low serum retinol and thiamine deficiency were rarely detected. Iron and zinc deficiency were associated with anemia, and their proportions were significantly lower after the introduction of MFF (21 vs. 35% with soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) > 8.5 mg/L, P = 0.042, and 50 vs. 73% with serum zinc < 0.66 mg/L, P = 0.001). Serum sTfR, whole-blood thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and serum β-carotene were significant predictors (P < 0.001) of milk iron, thiamine and β-carotene, respectively. Lower prevalence of iron deficiency in the MFF group was associated with significantly higher iron and thiamine in breast milk. Conclusions High whole-blood TDP and breast milk thiamine reflected good compliance to provided thiamine; high prevalence of iron deficiency suggested insufficient dietary iron and low acceptance to ferrous sulfate supplements. MFF as an additional food ration in Maela refugee camp seemed to have an effect in reducing both iron and zinc deficiency postpartum. © Springer-Verlag 2012.

Cited:

467

Scopus

Phyo AP, Nkhoma S, Stepniewska K, Ashley EA, Nair S, McGready R, Moo CL, Al-Saai S, Dondorp AM, Lwin KM et al. 2012. Emergence of artemisinin-resistant malaria on the western border of Thailand: A longitudinal study The Lancet, 379 (9830), pp. 1960-1966. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria has arisen in western Cambodia. A concerted international eff ort is underway to contain artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum, but containment strategies are dependent on whether resistance has emerged elsewhere. We aimed to establish whether artemisinin resistance has spread or emerged on the Thailand-Myanmar (Burma) border. Methods In malaria clinics located along the northwestern border of Thailand, we measured six hourly parasite counts in patients with uncomplicated hyperparasitaemic falciparum malaria (≤4% infected red blood cells) who had been given various oral artesunate-containing regimens since 2001. Parasite clearance half-lives were estimated and parasites were genotyped for 93 single nucleotide polymorphisms. Findings 3202 patients were studied between 2001 and 2010. Parasite clearance half-lives lengthened from a geometric mean of 2·6 h (95% CI 2·5-2·7) in 2001, to 3·7 h (3·6-3·8) in 2010, compared with a mean of 5·5 h (5·2-5·9) in 119 patients in western Cambodia measured between 2007 and 2010. The proportion of slow-clearing infections (half-life ≤6·2 h) increased from 0·6% in 2001, to 20% in 2010, compared with 42% in western Cambodia between 2007 and 2010. Of 1583 infections genotyped, 148 multilocus parasite genotypes were identifi ed, each of which infected between two and 13 patients. The proportion of variation in parasite clearance attributable to parasite genetics increased from 30% between 2001 and 2004, to 66% between 2007 and 2010. Interpretation Genetically determined artemisinin resistance in P falciparum emerged along the Thailand-Myanmar border at least 8 years ago and has since increased substantially. At this ra te of increase, resistance will reach rates reported in western Cambodia in 2-6 years.

McGready R, Nosten F. 2012. Proxies and prevention of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (12), pp. 902-903. | Read more

Chue AL, Carrara VI, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Wiladphaingern J, van Vugt M, Lee SJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Is areca innocent? The effect of areca (betel) nut chewing in a population of pregnant women on the Thai-Myanmar border. Int Health, 4-172 (3), pp. 204-209. | Show Abstract | Read more

Eight manuscripts have specifically examined the effects of areca (betel) nut use in pregnant women, seven of which have documented adverse effects on birth weight, newborn neurological status, gender ratio and pregnancy outcomes such as anaemia and miscarriage following areca nut use during pregnancy. A retrospective cohort analysis of migrant and refugee pregnant women attending antenatal clinics along the Thai-Myanmar border (July 1997 to November 2006) was conducted to examine the adverse effects of areca nut use routinely recorded on enrolment. Of 7685 women, 2284 (29.7%) never used areca or smoked (cheroots), 2484 (32.3%) only used areca, 438 (5.7%) only smoked cheroots and 2479 (32.3%) used both areca and cheroots. Pieces of ripe areca nut in a leaf with lime, without tobacco, were used particularly among older multigravid women. Adverse pregnancy effects were not observed in areca nut users compared with non-users. Smoking, but not areca nut use, had a dose-related effect on miscarriage. Areca nut use in conjunction with smoking reduced the adverse effects of smoking on birth weight, further supporting a lack of effect of areca nut. Areca (betel) nut-related adverse pregnancy outcomes were not observed in this population, whereas smoking was clearly harmful. Differences from previous reports may result from the amount or types of areca nut, or quid content, consumed between countries. Smoking, but not areca nut, reduction is likely to improve pregnancy outcomes on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, McGready R, Lee SJ, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2012. Thiamine diphosphate in whole blood, thiamine and thiamine monophosphate in breast-milk in a refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (6), pp. e36280. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The provision of high doses of thiamine may prevent thiamine deficiency in the post-partum period of displaced persons. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The study aimed to evaluate a supplementation regimen of thiamine mononitrate (100 mg daily) at the antenatal clinics in Maela refugee camp. Women were enrolled during antenatal care and followed after delivery. Samples were collected at 12 weeks post partum. Thiamine diphosphate (TDP) in whole blood and thiamine in breast-milk of 636 lactating women were measured. Thiamine in breast-milk consisted of thiamine monophosphate (TMP) in addition to thiamine, with a mean TMP to total thiamine ratio of 63%. Mean whole blood TDP (130 nmol/L) and total thiamine in breast-milk (755 nmol/L) were within the upper range reported for well-nourished women. The prevalence of women with low whole blood TDP (<65 nmol/L) was 5% and with deficient breast-milk total thiamine (<300 nmol/L) was 4%. Whole blood TDP predicted both breast-milk thiamine and TMP (R(2) = 0.36 and 0.10, p<0.001). A ratio of TMP to total thiamine ≥63% was associated with a 7.5 and 4-fold higher risk of low whole blood TDP and deficient total breast-milk thiamine, respectively. Routine provision of daily 100 mg of thiamine mononitrate post-partum compared to the previous weekly 10 mg of thiamine hydrochloride resulted in significantly higher total thiamine in breast-milk. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Thiamine supplementation for lactating women in Maela refugee camp is effective and should be continued. TMP and its ratio to total thiamine in breast-milk, reported for the first time in this study, provided useful information on thiamine status and should be included in future studies of breast-milk thiamine.

McGready R, Boel M, Rijken MJ, Ashley EA, Cho T, Moo O, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Hkirijareon L, Carrara VI et al. 2012. Effect of early detection and treatment on malaria related maternal mortality on the north-western border of Thailand 1986-2010. PLoS One, 7 (7), pp. e40244. | Show Abstract | Read more

INTRODUCTION: Maternal mortality is high in developing countries, but there are few data in high-risk groups such as migrants and refugees in malaria-endemic areas. Trends in maternal mortality were followed over 25 years in antenatal clinics prospectively established in an area with low seasonal transmission on the north-western border of Thailand. METHODS AND FINDINGS: All medical records from women who attended the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit antenatal clinics from 12(th) May 1986 to 31(st) December 2010 were reviewed, and maternal death records were analyzed for causality. There were 71 pregnancy-related deaths recorded amongst 50,981 women who attended antenatal care at least once. Three were suicide and excluded from the analysis as incidental deaths. The estimated maternal mortality ratio (MMR) overall was 184 (95%CI 150-230) per 100,000 live births. In camps for displaced persons there has been a six-fold decline in the MMR from 499 (95%CI 200-780) in 1986-90 to 79 (40-170) in 2006-10, p<0.05. In migrants from adjacent Myanmar the decline in MMR was less significant: 588 (100-3260) to 252 (150-430) from 1996-2000 to 2006-2010. Mortality from P. falciparum malaria in pregnancy dropped sharply with the introduction of systematic screening and treatment and continued to decline with the reduction in the incidence of malaria in the communities. P. vivax was not a cause of maternal death in this population. Infection (non-puerperal sepsis and P. falciparum malaria) accounted for 39.7 (27/68) % of all deaths. CONCLUSIONS: Frequent antenatal clinic screening allows early detection and treatment of falciparum malaria and substantially reduces maternal mortality from P. falciparum malaria. No significant decline has been observed in deaths from sepsis or other causes in refugee and migrant women on the Thai-Myanmar border.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Pimanpanarak M, Keereecharoen NL, Proux S, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. No association of phenotypic ABO blood group and malaria during pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 87 (3), pp. 447-449. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a few small studies an association between blood group O and placental malaria has been described. The relationship between blood group and malaria in pregnancy (Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum) was analyzed in 1,468 women from three longitudinal cohort studies in which weekly malaria screening was done systematically during pregnancy. One-third of women (447 of 1,468) had at least one malaria infection in pregnancy. The ABO blood group phenotype was not associated with the species of infection, frequency of malaria attacks, symptoms of malaria, hematocrit, or parasitemia during pregnancy.

Cheeseman IH, Miller BA, Nair S, Nkhoma S, Tan A, Tan JC, Al Saai S, Phyo AP, Moo CL, Lwin KM et al. 2012. A major genome region underlying artemisinin resistance in malaria. Science, 336 (6077), pp. 79-82. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evolving resistance to artemisinin-based compounds threatens to derail attempts to control malaria. Resistance has been confirmed in western Cambodia and has recently emerged in western Thailand, but is absent from neighboring Laos. Artemisinin resistance results in reduced parasite clearance rates (CRs) after treatment. We used a two-phase strategy to identify genome region(s) underlying this ongoing selective event. Geographical differentiation and haplotype structure at 6969 polymorphic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 91 parasites from Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos identified 33 genome regions under strong selection. We screened SNPs and microsatellites within these regions in 715 parasites from Thailand, identifying a selective sweep on chromosome 13 that shows strong association (P = 10(-6) to 10(-12)) with slow CRs, illustrating the efficacy of targeted association for identifying the genetic basis of adaptive traits.

Rijken MJ, Gilder ME, Thwin MM, Ladda Kajeechewa HM, Wiladphaingern J, Lwin KM, Jones C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Refugee and migrant women's views of antenatal ultrasound on the Thai Burmese border: a mixed methods study. PLoS One, 7 (4), pp. e34018. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antenatal ultrasound suits developing countries by virtue of its versatility, relatively low cost and safety, but little is known about women's or local provider's perspectives of this upcoming technology in such settings. This study was undertaken to better understand how routine obstetric ultrasound is experienced in a displaced Burmese population and identify barriers to its acceptance by local patients and providers. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Qualitative (30 observations, 19 interviews, seven focus group discussions) and quantitative methods (questionnaire survey with 644 pregnant women) were used to provide a comprehensive understanding along four major themes: safety, emotions, information and communication, and unintended consequences of antenatal ultrasound in refugee and migrant clinics on the Thai Burmese border. One of the main concerns expressed by women was the danger of childbirth which they mainly attributed to fetal malposition. Both providers and patients recognized ultrasound as a technology improving the safety of pregnancy and delivery. A minority of patients experienced transitory shyness or anxiety before the ultrasound, but reported that these feelings could be ameliorated with improved patient information and staff communication. Unintended consequences of overuse and gender selective abortions in this population were not common. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results of this study are being used to improve local practice and allow development of explanatory materials for this population with low literacy. We strongly encourage facilities introducing new technology in resource poor settings to assess acceptability through similar inquiry.

Rijken MJ, Papageorghiou AT, Thiptharakun S, Kiricharoen S, Dwell SLM, Wiladphaingern J, Pimanpanarak M, Kennedy SH, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Ultrasound evidence of early fetal growth restriction after maternal malaria infection. PLoS One, 7 (2), pp. e31411. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Intermittent preventive treatment (IPT), the main strategy to prevent malaria and reduce anaemia and low birthweight, focuses on the second half of pregnancy. However, intrauterine growth restriction may occur earlier in pregnancy. The aim of this study was to measure the effects of malaria in the first half of pregnancy by comparing the fetal biparietal diameter (BPD) of infected and uninfected women whose pregnancies had been accurately dated by crown rump length (CRL) before 14 weeks of gestation. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In 3,779 women living on the Thai-Myanmar border who delivered a normal singleton live born baby between 2001-10 and who had gestational age estimated by CRL measurement <14 weeks, the observed and expected BPD z-scores (<24 weeks) in pregnancies that were (n = 336) and were not (n = 3,443) complicated by malaria between the two scans were compared. The mean (standard deviation) fetal BPD z-scores in women with Plasmodium (P) falciparum and/or P.vivax malaria infections were significantly lower than in non-infected pregnancies; -0.57 (1.13) versus -0.10 (1.17), p<0.001. Even a single or an asymptomatic malaria episode resulted in a significantly lower z-score. Fetal female sex (p<0.001) and low body mass index (p = 0.01) were also independently associated with a smaller BPD in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Despite early treatment in all positive women, one or more (a)symptomatic P.falciparum or P.vivax malaria infections in the first half of pregnancy result in a smaller than expected mid-trimester fetal head diameter. Strategies to prevent malaria in pregnancy should include early pregnancy.

Dhorda M, Piola P, Nyehangane D, Tumwebaze B, Nalusaji A, Nabasumba C, Turyakira E, McGready R, Ashley E, Guerin PJ, Snounou G. 2012. Performance of a histidine-rich protein 2 rapid diagnostic test, Paracheck Pf®, for detection of malaria infections in Ugandan pregnant women. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 86 (1), pp. 93-95. | Show Abstract | Read more

Improved laboratory diagnosis is critical to reduce the burden of malaria in pregnancy. Peripheral blood smears appear less sensitive than Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2-based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for placental malaria infections in studies conducted at delivery. In this study, 81 women in Uganda in the second or third trimester of pregnancy were followed-up until delivery. At each visit, peripheral blood was tested by blood smear, RDT, and nested species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Sensitivity and specificity of the tests was calculated with PCR, which detected 22 infections of P. falciparum, as the gold standard. The sensitivity and specificity of blood smears were 36.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 18.0-59.2%) and 99.6% (95% CI = 97.7-100%), respectively. The corresponding values for RDT were 31.8% (95% CI = 14.7-54.9%) and 100% (95% CI = 98.3-100%). The RDTs could replace blood smears for diagnosis of malaria in pregnancy by virtue of their relative ease of use. Field-based sensitive tests for malaria in pregnancy are urgently needed.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Boel ME, Poespoprodjo R, Singh N, Syafruddin D, Rogerson S, Nosten F. 2012. Malaria in pregnancy in the Asia-Pacific region. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 75-88. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most pregnant women at risk of for infection with Plasmodium vivax live in the Asia-Pacific region. However, malaria in pregnancy is not recognised as a priority by many governments, policy makers, and donors in this region. Robust data for the true burden of malaria throughout pregnancy are scarce. Nevertheless, when women have little immunity, each infection is potentially fatal to the mother, fetus, or both. WHO recommendations for the control of malaria in pregnancy are largely based on the situation in Africa, but strategies in the Asia-Pacific region are complicated by heterogeneous transmission settings, coexistence of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax parasites, and different vectors. Most knowledge of the epidemiology, effect, treatment, and prevention of malaria in pregnancy in the Asia-Pacific region comes from India, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand. Improved estimates of the morbidity and mortality of malaria in pregnancy are urgently needed. When malaria in pregnancy cannot be prevented, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are needed to avert dangerous symptomatic disease and to reduce effects on fetuses.

Imwong M, Boel ME, Pagornrat W, Pimanpanarak M, McGready R, Day NPJ, Nosten F, White NJ. 2012. The first Plasmodium vivax relapses of life are usually genetically homologous. J Infect Dis, 205 (4), pp. 680-683. | Show Abstract | Read more

In a prospective infant cohort, 21 infants developed Plasmodium vivax malaria during their first year. Twelve of their mothers also had vivax malaria in the corresponding pregnancies or postpartum period. The genotypes of the maternal and infant infections were all different. Eight of the 12 mothers and 9 of the 21 infants had recurrent infections. Relapse parasite genotypes were different to the initial infection in 13 of 20 (65%) mothers compared with 5 of 24 (21%) infants (P = .02). The first P. vivax relapses of life are usually genetically homologous, whereas relapse in adults may result from activation of heterologous latent hypnozoites acquired from previous inoculations.

McGready R, Lee SJ, Wiladphaingern J, Ashley EA, Rijken MJ, Boel M, Simpson JA, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Mu O et al. 2012. Adverse effects of falciparum and vivax malaria and the safety of antimalarial treatment in early pregnancy: a population-based study. Lancet Infect Dis, 12 (5), pp. 388-396. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The effects of malaria and its treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy remain an area of concern. We aimed to assess the outcome of malaria-exposed and malaria-unexposed first-trimester pregnancies of women from the Thai-Burmese border and compare outcomes after chloroquine-based, quinine-based, or artemisinin-based treatments. METHODS: We analysed all antenatal records of women in the first trimester of pregnancy attending Shoklo Malaria Research Unit antenatal clinics from May 12, 1986, to Oct 31, 2010. Women without malaria in pregnancy were compared with those who had a single episode of malaria in the first trimester. The association between malaria and miscarriage was estimated using multivariable logistic regression. FINDINGS: Of 48,426 pregnant women, 17,613 (36%) met the inclusion criteria: 16,668 (95%) had no malaria during the pregnancy and 945 (5%) had a single episode in the first trimester. The odds of miscarriage increased in women with asymptomatic malaria (adjusted odds ratio 2·70, 95% CI 2·04-3·59) and symptomatic malaria (3·99, 3·10-5·13), and were similar for Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Other risk factors for miscarriage included smoking, maternal age, previous miscarriage, and non-malaria febrile illness. In women with malaria, additional risk factors for miscarriage included severe or hyperparasitaemic malaria (adjusted odds ratio 3·63, 95% CI 1·15-11·46) and parasitaemia (1·49, 1·25-1·78 for each ten-fold increase in parasitaemia). Higher gestational age at the time of infection was protective (adjusted odds ratio 0·86, 95% CI 0·81-0·91). The risk of miscarriage was similar for women treated with chloroquine (92 [26%] of 354), quinine (95 [27%) of 355), or artesunate (20 [31%] of 64; p=0·71). Adverse effects related to antimalarial treatment were not observed. INTERPRETATION: A single episode of falciparum or vivax malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy can cause miscarriage. No additional toxic effects associated with artesunate treatment occurred in early pregnancy. Prospective studies should now be done to assess the safety and efficacy of artemisinin combination treatments in early pregnancy.

De Beaudrap P, Turyakira E, Nabasumba C, Tumwebaze B, McGready R, II BY, Etard J-F, Piola P. 2011. Impact of malaria in pregnancy on gestational age, birth weight and infant growth: a cohort study in Uganda TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 16 pp. 135-135.

McGready R, Phyo AP, Rijken MJ, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Hanpithakpon W, Than HH, Hlaing N, Zin NT, Singhasivanon P et al. 2012. Artesunate/dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics in acute falciparum malaria in pregnancy: absorption, bioavailability, disposition and disease effects. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 73 (3), pp. 467-477. | Show Abstract | Read more

AIM: To determine if reported lower plasma concentrations of artemisinin derivatives for malaria in pregnancy result from reduced oral bioavailability, expanded volume of distribution or increased clearance. METHODS: In a sequentially assigned crossover treatment study, pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria received i.v. artesunate (i.v. ARS) (4mgkg(-1) ) on the first day and oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) ) on the second, or, oral on the first and i.v. on the second, in both groups followed by oral ARS (4mgkg(-1) day(-1) ) for 5 days. Plasma concentrations of ARS and dihyroartemisinin (DHA) were measured by liquid chromatography-mass-spectrometry on days 0, 1, 2 and 6. Controls were the same women restudied when healthy (3 months post partum). RESULTS: I.v. ARS administration resulted in similar ARS and DHA pharmacokinetics in pregnant women with malaria (n= 20) and in controls (n= 14). Oral administration resulted in higher total drug exposure in pregnancy [AUC (95% CI) in (ngml(-1) h)/(mgkg(-1) )] of 55.1 (30.1, 100.0) vs. 26.5 (12.2, 54.3) for ARS, P= 0.002 and 673 (386, 1130) vs. 523 (351, 724) for DHA, P= 0.007. The corresponding median absolute oral bioavailability (F%) was 21.7 (12.6, 75.1) vs. 9.9 (6.0, 36.81) for ARS (P= 0.046) and 77.0 (42.2, 129) vs. 72.7 (42.0, 87.7) for DHA, P= 0.033. Total DHA exposure was lower at day 6 in pregnant women with malaria (P < 0.001) compared with day 0 or 1, but not in the controls (P= 0.084). CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the effects of malaria on oral ARS drug disposition are greater than those of pregnancy. This probably results from a disease related reduction in first pass metabolism. The data are reassuring regarding current dosing recommendations.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Phyo AP, Lindegardh N, Tarning J, Laochan N, Than HH, Mu O, Win AK, Singhasivanon P et al. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (12), pp. 5500-5506. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Some antimalarials have altered pharmacokinetics in pregnancy. Pregnant women in the 2nd or 3rd trimester and matched nonpregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were treated with a total of 6.4 mg/kg of body weight dihydroartemisinin and 51.2 mg/kg piperaquine once daily for 3 days. Venous blood samples were drawn at prespecified time points over 9 weeks. Plasma dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine concentrations were analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Piperaquine and dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics were well described. There were no significant differences in total piperaquine exposure (P = 0.80) or drug exposure during the terminal elimination phase (72 h to infinity) (P = 0.64) between the two groups. The apparent volume of distribution of piperaquine was significantly smaller (602 liters/kg versus 877 liters/kg) in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women (P = 0.0057), and the terminal elimination half-life was significantly shorter (17.8 days versus 25.6 days; P = 0.0023). Dihydroartemisinin exposure after the first dose was significantly lower (844 h × ng/ml versus 1,220 h × ng/ml, P = 0.0021) in pregnant women, but there were no significant differences in total dihydroartemisinin exposure or maximum concentrations between the two groups. There were no significant differences in any pharmacokinetic parameters between the second and third trimester. These results obtained through noncompartmental analysis suggest that in the treatment of falciparum malaria, there are no clinically important differences in the pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin or piperaquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. However, a more detailed analysis using population pharmacokinetic modeling is needed to fully investigate the differences found for some of the pharmacokinetic parameters, such as the terminal half-life.

White LJ, Lee SJ, Stepniewska K, Simpson JA, Dwell SLM, Arunjerdja R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Estimation of gestational age from fundal height: a solution for resource-poor settings. J R Soc Interface, 9 (68), pp. 503-510. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many women in resource-poor settings lack access to reliable gestational age assessment because they do not know their last menstrual period; there is no ultrasound (US) and methods of newborn gestational age dating are not practised by birth attendants. A bespoke multiple-measures model was developed to predict the expected date of delivery determined by US. The results are compared with both a linear and a nonlinear model. Prospectively collected early US and serial symphysis-pubis fundal height (SFH) data were used in the models. The data were collected from Karen and Burmese women attending antenatal care on the Thai-Burmese border. The multiple-measures model performed best, resulting in a range of accuracy depending on the number of SFH measures recorded per mother (for example six SFH measurements resulted in a prediction accuracy of ±2 weeks). SFH remains the proxy for gestational age in much of the resource-poor world. While more accurate measures should be encouraged, we demonstrate that a formula that incorporates at least three SFH measures from an individual mother and the slopes between them provide a significant increase in the accuracy of prediction compared with the linear and nonlinear formulae also using multiple SFH measures.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, McGready R, Lee SJ, Erhardt JG, Breuer J, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2012. Micronutrient status in lactating mothers before and after introduction of fortified flour: cross-sectional surveys in Maela refugee camp. Eur J Nutr, 51 (4), pp. 425-434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Deficiency of micronutrients is common in refugee populations. OBJECTIVES: Identify deficiencies and whether provided supplements and wheat flour fortified with 10 micronutrients impacts upon status among breast-feeding women from Maela refugee camp. METHODS: Two sequential cross-sectional studies were conducted in different groups of lactating mothers at 12 weeks postpartum. The first survey was before and the second 4-5 months after micronutrient fortified flour (MFF) had been provided to the camp (in addition to the regular food basket). Iron status and micronutrients were measured in serum, whole blood, and in breast milk samples. RESULTS: Iron and zinc deficiency and anemia were highly prevalent while low serum retinol and thiamine deficiency were rarely detected. Iron and zinc deficiency were associated with anemia, and their proportions were significantly lower after the introduction of MFF (21 vs. 35% with soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) >8.5 mg/L, P = 0.042, and 50 vs. 73% with serum zinc <0.66 mg/L, P = 0.001). Serum sTfR, whole-blood thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and serum β-carotene were significant predictors (P < 0.001) of milk iron, thiamine and β-carotene, respectively. Lower prevalence of iron deficiency in the MFF group was associated with significantly higher iron and thiamine in breast milk. CONCLUSIONS: High whole-blood TDP and breast milk thiamine reflected good compliance to provided thiamine; high prevalence of iron deficiency suggested insufficient dietary iron and low acceptance to ferrous sulfate supplements. MFF as an additional food ration in Maela refugee camp seemed to have an effect in reducing both iron and zinc deficiency postpartum.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Jullien V, Tarning J, Lindegardh N, Phyo AP, Win AK, Hsi P, Cammas M, Singhasivanon P et al. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine in pregnant and postpartum women with Plasmodium vivax malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 55 (9), pp. 4338-4342. | Show Abstract | Read more

In order to study the pharmacokinetic properties of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine during pregnancy, 24 pregnant women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and with Plasmodium vivax malaria were treated with amodiaquine (10 mg/kg of body weight/day) for 3 days. The same women were studied again at 3 months postpartum. Plasma was analyzed for amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine by use of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. Individual concentration-time data were evaluated using noncompartmental analysis. There were no clinically relevant differences in the pharmacokinetics of amodiaquine and desethylamodiaquine between pregnant (n = 24) and postpartum (n = 18) women. The results suggest that the current amodiaquine dosing regimen is adequate for the treatment of P. vivax infections during pregnancy.

Carrara VI, Hogan C, De Pree C, Nosten F, McGready R. 2011. Improved pregnancy outcome in refugees and migrants despite low literacy on the Thai-Burmese border: results of three cross-sectional surveys. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 11 (1), pp. 45. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Maternal and infant health has been associated with maternal education level, which is highly associated with literacy. We aimed at estimating literacy rates among reproductive age women attending antenatal clinics in camps for refugees and in migrant clinics in Tak province, north-western Thailand, to determine whether illiteracy had an impact on birth outcomes. METHODS: Three reading assessments were conducted using an identical method each time, in 1995-97, 2003 and 2008. Midwives chose at random one of four pre-set sentences. Each woman was asked to read aloud and scoring was based on a "pass/fail" system. Pregnancy outcomes were compared with maternal literacy rate. RESULTS: Overall, 47% (1149/2424) of women were able to read. A significant improvement was observed among migrant (34% in 2003 vs. 46% in 2008, p = 0.01), but not refugee (47% in 1995-97, 49% in 2003, and 51% in 2008) women. Literate women were significantly more likely to be of non-Karen ethnicity, primigravidae, non-smokers, to remain free from malaria during pregnancy and to deliver in a health clinic. Significant improvements in pregnancy outcome (reductions in premature births, low birth weight newborns and neonatal death) between 1995-97 and 2003 were unrelated to literacy. CONCLUSIONS: Significant reductions in poor pregnancy outcome over time have not been driven by changes in literacy rates, which have remained low. Access to early diagnosis and treatment of malaria in this population, and delivery with skilled birth attendants, despite ongoing low literacy, appears to have played a significant role.

Rijken MJ, Boel ME, Russell B, Imwong M, Leimanis ML, Phyo AP, Muehlenbachs A, Lindegardh N, McGready R, Rénia L et al. 2011. Chloroquine resistant vivax malaria in a pregnant woman on the western border of Thailand. Malar J, 10 (1), pp. 113. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chloroquine (CQ) resistant vivax malaria is spreading. In this case, Plasmodium vivax infections during pregnancy and in the postpartum period were not satisfactorily cleared by CQ, despite adequate drug concentrations. A growth restricted infant was delivered. Poor susceptibility to CQ was confirmed in-vitro and molecular genotyping was strongly suggestive of true recrudescence of P. vivax. This is the first clinically and laboratory confirmed case of two high-grade CQ resistant vivax parasite strains from Thailand.

Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, McGready R, Nosten F, Duffy PE. 2011. Response to ordi et Al. J Infect Dis, 203 (11), pp. 1695-1696. | Read more

Boel ME, Lee SJ, Rijken MJ, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Tan SO, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2011. Castor Oil for Induction of Labor Obstetric Anesthesia Digest, 31 (1), pp. 37-38. | Read more

Rijken MJ, Rijken JA, Papageorghiou AT, Kennedy SH, Visser GHA, Nosten F, McGready R. 2011. Malaria in pregnancy: the difficulties in measuring birthweight. BJOG, 118 (6), pp. 671-678. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recommendations for interventions to control malaria in pregnancy are often based on studies using birthweight as the primary endpoint. Differences in birthweight may be attributable partly to methodological difficulties. We performed a structured search of the literature using 'malaria', 'pregnancy' and 'birth weight' as search terms. Of the clinical trials reporting birthweight, only 33% (14/43) gave information about the timing of the measurement and details on the scales used. Seventy seven per cent explained how gestational age was estimated. We propose a standardised method for the measurement and reporting of birthweight in future studies.

McGready R, White NJ, Nosten F. 2011. Parasitological efficacy of antimalarials in the treatment and prevention of falciparum malaria in pregnancy 1998 to 2009: a systematic review. BJOG, 118 (2), pp. 123-135. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pregnant women are at increased risk from malaria. Resistance to all classes of antimalarials has affected the treatment and prevention of malaria in pregnancy. OBJECTIVES: To review the therapeutic efficacy of antimalarials used for treatment and intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) in pregnancy. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library between January 1998 and December 2009 for publications using the medical subject headings: efficacy, antimalarials, malaria, pregnancy, pharmacokinetics, treatment, IPT and placenta positive. In May 2010 we searched the register of clinical trials (http://clinicaltrials.gov/) and of WHO (http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/) using 'malaria', and 'pregnancy' and 'treatment'. SELECTION CRITERIA: We identified 233 abstracts, reviewed 83 full text articles and included 60 studies. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors entered extracted data to an excel spreadsheet. MAIN RESULTS: Parasitological failure rates, placenta positivity rates (assessed by microscopy) or both were reported in 44% (21/48), 46% (22/48) and 10% (5/48) of articles, respectively. Most pharmacokinetic studies (9/12) suggested dose optimisation. In 23 treatment studies 17 different antimalarial drugs were delivered in 53 study arms; 43.4% (23/53) reported a failure rate of < 5%; 83.3% of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) arms and 9% of artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) arms had failure rates ≥ 10%. Placenta-positive rates (mostly reported in the context of IPT in pregnancy) were > 10% in 68% (23/34) of SP trial arms and > 15% in all seven chloroquine arms. The ACT provided lower parasitological failure and gametocyte carriage rates. AUTHOR'S CONCLUSIONS: Drugs used in pregnancy should aim for 95% efficacy but many currently deployed regimens are associated with much lower cure rates.

McGready R, Wuthiekanun V, Ashley EA, Tan SO, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Jesadapanpong W, Blacksell SD, Proux S, Day NP et al. 2010. Diagnostic and treatment difficulties of pyelonephritis in pregnancy in resource-limited settings. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 83 (6), pp. 1322-1329. | Show Abstract | Read more

Limited microbiology services impede adequate diagnosis and treatment of common infections such as pyelonephritis in resource-limited settings. Febrile pregnant women attending antenatal clinics at Shoklo Malaria Research Unit were offered urine dipstick, sediment microscopy, urine culture, and a 5-mL blood culture. The incidence of pyelonephritis was 11/1,000 deliveries (N = 53 in 4,819 pregnancies) between January 7, 2004 and May 17, 2006. Pyelonephritis accounted for 20.2% (41/203) of fever cases in pregnancy. Escherichia coli was the most commonly isolated pathogen: 87.5% (28/32) of organisms cultured. Susceptibility of E. coli to ampicillin (14%), cotrimoxazole (21%), and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (48%) was very low. E. coli was susceptible to ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin. The rate of extended spectrum β-lactamase (4.2%; 95% confidence interval = 0.7-19.5) was low. The rate and causes of pyelonephritis in pregnant refugee and migrant women were comparable with those described in developed countries. Diagnostic innovation in microbiology that permits affordable access is a high priority for resource-poor settings.

Muehlenbachs A, Fried M, McGready R, Harrington WE, Mutabingwa TK, Nosten F, Duffy PE. 2010. A novel histological grading scheme for placental malaria applied in areas of high and low malaria transmission. J Infect Dis, 202 (10), pp. 1608-1616. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes sequester in the placenta and elicit an inflammatory response that is harmful to both fetus and mother. Histologic measurements during placental malaria might provide surrogate end points for interventional trials, but existing histologic schemes capture limited complexity and are not consistently used among study sites. METHODS: Using frozen-section histologic evaluation in Tanzania (high-transmission area), we established a novel grading scheme to separately quantify inflammation and pigment deposition during placental malaria (n = 102). To generalize this method, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded placental samples from Karen women in Thailand (low-transmission area) were selected from among women with documented antenatal parasitemia who were near term (n = 18). RESULTS: In the Tanzanian cohort, the inflammation and pigment-deposition scores were independently associated with birth weight, and the inflammation score was associated with chemokine levels. In the smaller cohort from Thailand, both inflammation and pigment scores were associated with birth weight, and the pigment score had an inverse trend with the number of antenatal clinic visits. CONCLUSIONS: This semiquantitative pathological grading scheme is simple to implement and captures information that is associated with outcomes in Asia and Africa; therefore, it should facilitate the comparison and standardization of results among clinical trials across areas of differing endemicity.

McGready R. 2010. Intermittent preventive treatment of infants with mefloquine reduces risk of clinical malaria in areas of moderate malaria transmission and high resistance to sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, but safety and tolerability issues need consideration. Evid Based Med, 15 (3), pp. 71-72. | Read more

McGready R, Nosten F. 2010. Which Drug is Effective and Safe for Acute Malaria in Pregnancy? Reviewing the Evidence DRUG DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH, 71 (1), pp. 56-68. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy, a woman living or travelling in a malaria endemic area is more at risk of contracting the disease and developing a severe infection and dying than a non-pregnant woman. Despite this increased morbidity and mortality in pregnancy, there are almost no studies on which to base recommendations on the use of antimalarial drugs in this vulnerable group. This is because, paradoxically, the emphasis is often put on the safety of the unborn child rather than that of the infested mother. As a result of this neglect, tens of thousands of pregnant women (and their fetuses) are dying every year of a very preventable and treatable infection. In recent years, some trials have been conducted, especially in areas of high resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in South East Asia. The results show that quinine plus clindamycin is the treatment of choice in the first trimester, while artemisinin treatment should be used in the second and third trimesters in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. For severe malaria, parenteral artesunate is the treatment of choice. However these studies have also shown that the pharmacokinetic properties of most antimalarials are altered during gestation and that the doses used in non-pregnant adults are often not adapted to pregnancy. Urgent efforts are required to optimize the treatment of malaria in pregnancy. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Wuthiekanun V, Tan SO, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Jesadapanpong W, Blacksell SD, Peacock SJ, Paris DH et al. 2010. Arthropod borne disease: the leading cause of fever in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (11), pp. e888. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Fever in pregnancy is dangerous for both mother and foetus. In the 1980's malaria was the leading cause of death in pregnant women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border. Artemisinin combination therapy has significantly reduced the incidence of malaria in the population. The remaining causes of fever in pregnancy are not well documented. METHODOLOGY: Pregnant women attending antenatal care, where weekly screening for malaria is routine, were invited to have a comprehensive clinical and laboratory screen if they had fever. Women were admitted to hospital, treated and followed up weekly until delivery. A convalescent serum was collected on day 21. Delivery outcomes were recorded. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Febrile episodes (n = 438) occurred in 5.0% (409/8,117) of pregnant women attending antenatal clinics from 7-Jan-2004 to 17-May-2006. The main cause was malaria in 55.5% (227/409). A cohort of 203 (49.6% of 409) women had detailed fever investigations and follow up. Arthropod-borne (malaria, rickettsial infections, and dengue) and zoonotic disease (leptospirosis) accounted for nearly half of all febrile illnesses, 47.3% (96/203). Coinfection was observed in 3.9% (8/203) of women, mostly malaria and rickettsia. Pyelonephritis, 19.7% (40/203), was also a common cause of fever. Once malaria, pyelonephritis and acute respiratory illness are excluded by microscopy and/or clinical findings, one-third of the remaining febrile infections will be caused by rickettsia or leptospirosis. Scrub and murine typhus were associated with poor pregnancy outcomes including stillbirth and low birth weight. One woman died (no positive laboratory tests). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Malaria remains the leading cause of fever in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. Scrub and murine typhus were also important causes of fever associated with poor pregnancy outcomes. Febrile pregnant women on the Thai-Burmese border who do not have malaria, pyelonephritis or respiratory tract infection should be treated with azithromycin, effective for typhus and leptospirosis.

Boel M, Carrara VI, Rijken M, Proux S, Nacher M, Pimanpanarak M, Paw MK, Moo O, Gay H, Bailey W et al. 2010. Complex Interactions between soil-transmitted helminths and malaria in pregnant women on the Thai-Burmese border. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 4 (11), pp. e887. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Deworming is recommended by the WHO in girls and pregnant and lactating women to reduce anaemia in areas where hookworm and anaemia are common. There is conflicting evidence on the harm and the benefits of intestinal geohelminth infections on the incidence and severity of malaria, and consequently on the risks and benefits of deworming in malaria affected populations. We examined the association between geohelminths and malaria in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border. METHODOLOGY: Routine antenatal care (ANC) included active detection of malaria (weekly blood smear) and anaemia (second weekly haematocrit) and systematic reporting of birth outcomes. In 1996 stool samples were collected in cross sectional surveys from women attending the ANCs. This was repeated in 2007 when malaria incidence had reduced considerably. The relationship between geohelminth infection and the progress and outcome of pregnancy was assessed. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Stool sample examination (339 in 1996, 490 in 2007) detected a high prevalence of geohelminths 70% (578/829), including hookworm (42.8% (355)), A. lumbricoides (34.4% (285)) and T.trichuria (31.4% (250)) alone or in combination. A lower proportion of women (829) had mild (21.8% (181)) or severe (0.2% (2)) anaemia, or malaria 22.4% (186) (P.vivax monoinfection 53.3% (101/186)). A. lumbricoides infection was associated with a significantly decreased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.23-0.84) and P.vivax malaria (AOR: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.11-0.79) whereas hookworm infection was associated with an increased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 1.66, 95% CI: 1.06-2.60) and anaemia (AOR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.18-4.93). Hookworm was also associated with low birth weight (AOR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.02-3.23). CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: A. lumbricoides and hookworm appear to have contrary associations with malaria in pregnancy.

Piola P, Nabasumba C, Turyakira E, Dhorda M, Lindegardh N, Nyehangane D, Snounou G, Ashley EA, McGready R, Nosten F, Guerin PJ. 2010. Efficacy and safety of artemether-lumefantrine compared with quinine in pregnant women with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria: an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority trial. Lancet Infect Dis, 10 (11), pp. 762-769. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Malaria in pregnancy is associated with maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. In 2006, WHO recommended use of artemisinin-based combination treatments during the second or third trimesters, but data on efficacy and safety in Africa were scarce. We aimed to assess whether artemether-lumefantrine was at least as efficacious as oral quinine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy in Mbarara, Uganda. METHODS: We did an open-label, randomised, non-inferiority trial between October, 2006, and May, 2009, at the antenatal clinics of the Mbarara University of Science and Technology Hospital in Uganda. Pregnant women were randomly assigned (1:1) by computer generated sequence to receive either quinine hydrochloride or artemether-lumefantrine, and were followed up weekly until delivery. Our primary endpoint was cure rate at day 42, confirmed by PCR. The non-inferiority margin was a difference in cure rate of 5%. Analysis of efficacy was for all randomised patients without study deviations that could have affected the efficacy outcome. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00495508. FINDINGS: 304 women were randomly assigned, 152 to each treatment group. By day 42, 16 patients were lost to follow-up and 25 were excluded from the analysis. At day 42, 137 (99.3%) of 138 patients taking artemether-lumefantrine and 122 (97.6%) of 125 taking quinine were cured-difference 1.7% (lower limit of 95% CI -0.9). There were 290 adverse events in the quinine group and 141 in the artemether-lumefantrine group. INTERPRETATION: Artemisinin derivatives are not inferior to oral quinine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in pregnancy and might be preferable on the basis of safety and efficacy. FUNDING: Médecins Sans Frontières and the European Commission.

McGready R, Nosten F. 2010. New Malaria Drugs (volume 71, number 1, 2010) Drug Development Research, 71 (3), pp. 219-220. | Read more

Boel ME, Lee SJ, Rijken MJ, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Tan SO, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2010. Castor Oil for Induction of Labor: Not Harmful, Not Helpful Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, 65 (2), pp. 77-78. | Read more

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Annerberg A, Tarning J, McGready R, Phaiphun L, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2010. Comparison of plasma, venous and capillary blood levels of piperaquine in patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 66 (7), pp. 705-712. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a fixed-dose artemisinin-based combination treatment. Field pharmacokinetic studies would be simplified and facilitated by being able to use small volume capillary assays rather than venous blood. The aim of this study was to describe the relationship between piperaquine concentrations measured in capillary blood, venous blood and venous plasma. METHODS: Samples of plasma, whole blood obtained by venesection and capillary blood were taken simultaneously from patients with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with DP between 0 and 9 weeks after treatment. Piperaquine concentrations in venous and capillary samples were measured using solid phase extraction and analysis by liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. RESULTS: A total of 161 sets of the three measures were obtained from 54 patients. Piperaquine concentrations in the venous blood samples were approximately twofold higher and those in the capillary blood samples were threefold higher than the corresponding venous plasma concentrations. Capillary blood piperaquine concentrations were approximately 1.7-fold higher than venous blood concentrations, and this difference also increased with time. CONCLUSION: Differences in whole blood and plasma levels of piperaquine suggest compartmentalisation of the drug within blood cells, as also occurs with the structurally related quinoline chloroquine. The relationship between piperaquine concentrations in the venous plasma, venous blood and capillary blood is variable and unpredictable at low concentrations. However, within the range of concentrations usually present in patients between 3 and 21 days after treatment with currently recommended doses, the relationship between capillary and venous whole blood is predictable; consequently, capillary blood sampling can be used in field assessments.

McGready R. 2009. Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infancy. Lancet, 374 (9700), pp. 1478-1480. | Read more

Rijken MJ, Lee SJ, Boel ME, Papageorghiou AT, Visser GHA, Dwell SLM, Kennedy SH, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. Obstetric ultrasound scanning by local health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol, 34 (4), pp. 395-403. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVES: Ultrasound examination of the fetus is a powerful tool for assessing gestational age and detecting obstetric problems but is rarely available in developing countries. The aim of this study was to assess the intraobserver and interobserver agreement of fetal biometry by locally trained health workers in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. METHODS: One expatriate doctor and four local health workers participated in the study, which included examinations performed on every fifth pregnant woman with a singleton pregnancy between 16 and 40 weeks' gestation, and who had undergone an early dating ultrasound scan, attending the antenatal clinic in Maela refugee camp. At each examination, two examiners independently measured biparietal diameter (BPD), head circumference (HC), abdominal circumference (AC) and femur length (FL), with one of the examiners obtaining duplicate measurements of each parameter. Intraobserver measurement error was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and interobserver error was assessed by the Bland and Altman 95% limits of agreement method. RESULTS: A total of 4188 ultrasound measurements (12 per woman) were obtained in 349 pregnancies at a median gestational age of 27 (range, 16-40) weeks in 2008. The ICC for BPD, HC, AC and FL was greater than 0.99 for all four trainees and the doctor (range, 0.996-0.998). For gestational ages between 18 and 24 weeks, interobserver 95% limits of agreement corresponding to differences in estimated gestational age of less than +/- 1 week were calculated for BPD, HC, AC and FL. Measurements by local health workers showed high levels of agreement with those of the expatriate doctor. CONCLUSIONS: Locally trained health workers working in a well organized unit with ongoing quality control can obtain accurate fetal biometry measurements for gestational age estimation. This experience suggests that training of local health workers in developing countries is possible and could allow effective use of obstetric ultrasound imaging.

Boel ME, Lee SJ, Rijken MJ, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Tan SO, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. Castor oil for induction of labour: not harmful, not helpful. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 49 (5), pp. 499-503. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Castor oil is one of the most popular drugs for induction of labour in a non-medical setting; however, published data on safety and effectiveness of this compound to induce labour remain sparse. AIM: To assess the safety and effectiveness of castor oil for induction of labour in pregnancies with an ultrasound estimated gestational at birth of more than 40 weeks. METHODS: Data were extracted from hospital-based records of all pregnant women who attended antenatal clinics on the Thai-Burmese border and who were more than 40 weeks pregnant. The effectiveness of castor oil to induce labour was expressed as time to birth and analysed with a Cox proportional hazards regression model. Measures associated with safety were fetal distress, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, tachysystole of the uterus, uterine rupture, abnormal maternal blood pressure during labour, Apgar scores, neonatal resuscitation, stillbirth, post-partum haemorrhage, severe diarrhoea and maternal death. Proportions were compared using Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: Of 612 women with a gestation of more than 40 weeks, 205 received castor oil for induction and 407 did not. The time to birth was not significantly different between the two groups (hazard ratio 0.99 (95% confidence interval: 0.81 to 1.20; n = 509)). Castor oil use was not associated with any harmful effects on the mother or fetus. CONCLUSIONS: Castor oil for induction of labour had no effect on time to birth nor were there any harmful effects observed in this large series. Our findings leave no justification for recommending castor oil for this purpose.

Tarning J, McGready R, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M, Kamanikom B, Annerberg A, Day NPJ, Stepniewska K, Singhasivanon P et al. 2009. Population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine in pregnant women treated with artemether-lumefantrine for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 53 (9), pp. 3837-3846. | Show Abstract | Read more

Artemether-lumefantrine has become one of the most widely used antimalarial drugs in the world. The objective of this study was to determine the population pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the northwestern border of Thailand. Burmese and Karen women (n = 103) with P. falciparum malaria and in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy were treated with artemether-lumefantrine (80/480 mg) twice daily for 3 days. All patients provided five capillary plasma samples for drug quantification, and the collection times were randomly distributed over 14 days. The concentration-time profiles of lumefantrine were assessed by nonlinear mixed-effects modeling. The treatment failure rate (PCR-confirmed recrudescent infections at delivery) was high; 16.5% (95% confidence interval, 9.9 to 25.1). The population pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine were described well by a two-compartment open model with first-order absorption and elimination. The final model included interindividual variability in all pharmacokinetic parameters and a linear covariate relationship between the estimated gestational age and the central volume of distribution. A high proportion of all women (40%, 41/103) had day 7 capillary plasma concentrations of <355 ng/ml (which corresponds to approximately <280 ng/ml in venous plasma), a threshold previously associated with an increased risk of therapeutic failure in nonpregnant patients in this area. Predictive modeling suggests that a twice-daily regimen given for 5 days would be preferable in later pregnancy. In conclusion, altered pharmacokinetic properties of lumefantrine contribute to the high rates of failure of artemether-lumefantrine treatment in later pregnancy. Dose optimization is urgently needed.

Rijken M, Lee S, Visser GH, Papageorghiou A, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. OC08.01: Quality assessment of fetal biometry in locally trained sonographers in a developing country setting Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 34 (S1), pp. 13-13. | Read more

McGready R, Blacksell SD, Luksameetanasan R, Wuthiekanun V, Jedsadapanpong W, Day NPJ, Nosten F. 2010. First report of an Orientia tsutsugamushi type TA716-related scrub typhus infection in Thailand. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 10 (2), pp. 191-193. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi causes scrub typhus and is a rural zoonosis endemic in the Asia Pacific region. This is the first report of O. tsutsugamushi TA716-like strain in a human in Thailand. The patient was in the 1st trimester of pregnancy when she developed scrub typhus. The O. tsutsugamushi strain TA716 was detected from her admission blood sample, and the pregnancy ended in spontaneous abortion. The effects of scrub typhus in pregnant women and the pregnancy outcome are sparsely documented in the published medical literature. Improved clinical recognition and laboratory diagnosis will be essential to better define the morbidity caused by this zoonosis especially in pregnancy.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, La Y, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2009. Erratum:The pharmacokinetics of artemether and lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria(European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (2006) 62 (1021-1031) DOI: 10.1007/s00228-006-0199-7) European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 65 (8), pp. 847. | Read more

Carrara VI, Zwang J, Ashley EA, Price RN, Stepniewska K, Barends M, Brockman A, Anderson T, McGready R, Phaiphun L et al. 2009. Changes in the treatment responses to artesunate-mefloquine on the northwestern border of Thailand during 13 years of continuous deployment. PLoS One, 4 (2), pp. e4551. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Artemisinin combination treatments (ACT) are recommended as first line treatment for falciparum malaria throughout the malaria affected world. We reviewed the efficacy of a 3-day regimen of mefloquine and artesunate regimen (MAS(3)), over a 13 year period of continuous deployment as first-line treatment in camps for displaced persons and in clinics for migrant population along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS AND FINDINGS: 3,264 patients were enrolled in prospective treatment trials between 1995 and 2007 and treated with MAS(3). The proportion of patients with parasitaemia persisting on day-2 increased significantly from 4.5% before 2001 to 21.9% since 2002 (p<0.001). Delayed parasite clearance was associated with increased risk of developing gametocytaemia (AOR = 2.29; 95% CI, 2.00-2.69, p = 0.002). Gametocytaemia on admission and carriage also increased over the years (p = 0.001, test for trend, for both). MAS(3) efficacy has declined slightly but significantly (Hazards ratio 1.13; 95% CI, 1.07-1.19, p<0.001), although efficacy in 2007 remained well within acceptable limits: 96.5% (95% CI, 91.0-98.7). The in vitro susceptibility of P. falciparum to artesunate increased significantly until 2002, but thereafter declined to levels close to those of 13 years ago (geometric mean in 2007: 4.2 nM/l; 95% CI, 3.2-5.5). The proportion of infections caused by parasites with increased pfmdr1 copy number rose from 30% (12/40) in 1996 to 53% (24/45) in 2006 (p = 0.012, test for trend). CONCLUSION: Artesunate-mefloquine remains a highly efficacious antimalarial treatment in this area despite 13 years of widespread intense deployment, but there is evidence of a modest increase in resistance. Of particular concern is the slowing of parasitological response to artesunate and the associated increase in gametocyte carriage.

Carrara VI, Stuetz W, Nosten F, McGready R. 2009. GROWTH VELOCITY OF TERM INFANTS BORN IN MAELA CAMP FOR DISPLACED POPULATION ALONG THE THAI-MYANMAR BORDER ANNALS OF NUTRITION AND METABOLISM, 55 pp. 299-299.

McGready R, Tan SO, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M, Viladpai-Nguen J, Phaiphun L, Wüstefeld K, Barends M, Laochan N, Keereecharoen L et al. 2008. A randomised controlled trial of artemether-lumefantrine versus artesunate for uncomplicated plasmodium falciparum treatment in pregnancy. PLoS Med, 5 (12), pp. e253. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To date no comparative trials have been done, to our knowledge, of fixed-dose artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Evidence on the safety and efficacy of ACTs in pregnancy is needed as these drugs are being used increasingly throughout the malaria-affected world. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of artemether-lumefantrine, the most widely used fixed ACT, with 7 d artesunate monotherapy in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. METHODS AND FINDINGS: An open-label randomised controlled trial comparing directly observed treatment with artemether-lumefantrine 3 d (AL) or artesunate monotherapy 7 d (AS7) was conducted in Karen women in the border area of northwestern Thailand who had uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The primary endpoint was efficacy defined as the P. falciparum PCR-adjusted cure rates assessed at delivery or by day 42 if this occurred later than delivery, as estimated by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Infants were assessed at birth and followed until 1 y of life. Blood sampling was performed to characterise the pharmacokinetics of lumefantrine in pregnancy. Both regimens were very well tolerated. The cure rates (95% confidence interval) for the intention to treat (ITT) population were: AS7 89.2% (82.3%-96.1%) and AL 82.0% (74.8%-89.3%), p = 0.054 (ITT); and AS7 89.7% (82.6%-96.8%) and AL 81.2% (73.6%-88.8%), p = 0.031 (per-protocol population). One-third of the PCR-confirmed recrudescent cases occurred after 42 d of follow-up. Birth outcomes and infant (up to age 1 y) outcomes did not differ significantly between the two groups. The pharmacokinetic study indicated that low concentrations of artemether and lumefantrine were the main contributors to the poor efficacy of AL. CONCLUSION: The current standard six-dose artemether-lumefantrine regimen was well tolerated and safe in pregnant Karen women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria, but efficacy was inferior to 7 d artesunate monotherapy and was unsatisfactory for general deployment in this geographic area. Reduced efficacy probably results from low drug concentrations in later pregnancy. A longer or more frequent AL dose regimen may be needed to treat pregnant women effectively and should now be evaluated. Parasitological endpoints in clinical trials of any antimalarial drug treatment in pregnancy should be extended to delivery or day 42 if it comes later. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN86353884.

Lindegardh N, Hanpithakpong W, Kamanikom B, Singhasivanon P, Socheat D, Yi P, Dondorp AM, McGready R, Nosten F, White NJ, Day NPJ. 2008. Major pitfalls in the measurement of artemisinin derivatives in plasma in clinical studies. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci, 876 (1), pp. 54-60. | Show Abstract | Read more

A bioanalytical method for the analysis of artesunate (ARS) and its metabolite dihydroartemisinin (DHA) in human plasma using protein precipitation and liquid chromatography coupled to positive tandem mass spectroscopy was developed. The method was validated according to published US FDA-guidelines and showed excellent performance. However, when it was applied to clinical pharmacokinetic studies in malaria, variable degradation of the artemisinins introduced an unacceptable large source of error, rendering the assay useless. Haemolytic products related to sample collection and malaria infection degraded the compounds. Addition of organic solvents during sample processing and even low volume addition of the internal standard in an organic solvent caused degradation. A solid phase extraction method avoiding organic solvents eliminated problems arising from haemolysis induced degradation. Plasma esterases mediated only approximately 20% of ex vivo hydrolysis of ARS into DHA. There are multiple sources of major preventable error in measuring ARS and DHA in plasma samples from clinical trials. These various pitfalls have undoubtedly contributed to the large inter-subject variation in plasma concentration profiles and derived pharmacokinetic parameters for these important antimalarial drugs.

Plewes K, Lee T, Kajeechewa L, Thwin MM, Lee SJ, Carrara VI, Nosten F, McGready R. 2008. Low seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis in pregnant women in refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Int J STD AIDS, 19 (12), pp. 833-837. | Show Abstract | Read more

SUMMARY: Refugee and migrant populations are considered to be at high risk from sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV. Cross-sectional surveys for syphilis and HIV were conducted in antenatal clinics (ANCs) on the Thai-Burmese border. In Mae La refugee camp, the seroprevalence of HIV and syphilis were 0.2% (one of 500) (95% CI 0-1.1) and 0% (0 of 404) (95% CI 0-0.9) in 1997; and 0.4% (two of 500) (95% CI 0.1-1.4) and 0.4% (three of 741) (95% CI 0.1-1.2) in 2005, respectively; syphilis seroprevalence in migrant women in 2005 was 0 (0 of 234) (95% CI 0-1.6). The seroprevalence was lower than that reported from surrounding ANCs for Thai or Burmese women. Focus group discussions with HIV-negative and -positive pregnant refugee women established that aspects of Karen culture and isolation (geographical and political) had a significant protective role from HIV and STI. This survey has resulted in programmatic changes in services to pregnant women in this area.

Tan SO, McGready R, Zwang J, Pimanpanarak M, Sriprawat K, Thwai KL, Moo Y, Ashley EA, Edwards B, Singhasivanon P et al. 2008. Thrombocytopaenia in pregnant women with malaria on the Thai-Burmese border. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 209. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Haematological changes associated with malaria in pregnancy are not well documented, and have focused predominantly on anaemia. Examined here is thrombocytopaenia in pregnant women infected with Plasmodium falciparum or Plasmodium vivax in a low transmission area on the north-western border of Thailand. METHODS: In this observational study we reviewed the platelet counts from routine complete blood count (CBC) in a cohort of healthy and malaria infected Karen pregnant women attending weekly antenatal clinics. A platelet count of 75,000/microL was the threshold at 2 standard deviations below the mean for healthy pregnant women used to indicate thrombocytopenia. Differences in platelet counts in non-pregnant and pregnant women were compared after matching for age, symptoms, malaria species and parasitaemia. RESULTS: In total 974 pregnant women had 1,558 CBC measurements between February 2004 and September 2006. The median platelet counts (/microL) were significantly lower in patients with an episode of falciparum 134,000 [11,000-690,000] (N = 694) or vivax malaria 184,000 [23,000-891,000] (N = 523) compared to healthy pregnant women 256,000 [64,000-781,000] (N = 255), P < 0.05 for both comparisons. Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax caused a 34% (95% CI 24-47) and 22% (95% CI 8-36) reduction in platelet count, respectively. Pregnant compared to non pregnant women were at higher risk OR = 2.27 (95%CI 1.16-4.4) P = 0.017, for thrombocytopaenia. Platelets counts were higher in first compared with subsequent malaria infections within the same pregnancy. Malaria associated thrombocytopaenia had a median [range] time for recovery of 7 234567891011121314 days which did not differ by antimalarial treatment (P = 0.86), or species (P = 0.63) and was not associated with active bleeding. CONCLUSION: Pregnant women become more thrombocytopenic than non-pregnant women with acute uncomplicated malaria. Uncomplicated malaria associated thrombocytopaenia is seldom severe. Prompt antimalarial treatment resulted in normalization of platelet counts within a week.

Lee SJ, McGready R, Fernandez C, Stepniewska K, Paw MK, Viladpai-nguen SJ, Thwai KL, Villegas L, Singhasivanon P, Greenwood BM et al. 2008. Chloroquine pharmacokinetics in pregnant and nonpregnant women with vivax malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 64 (10), pp. 987-992. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: We compared the pharmacokinetics of chloroquine in pregnant and nonpregnant women treated for Plasmodium vivax malaria. METHODS: Twelve pregnant women and 15 nonpregnant women of child-bearing age with acute P. vivax malaria were treated with 25 mg chloroquine base/kg over 3 days on the northwestern border of Thailand. Blood concentrations of chloroquine and desethylchloroquine were measured using hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled with fluorescence detection. Twenty-five women completed the pharmacokinetic study. RESULTS: Although increasing gestational age was associated with reduced chloroquine AUC0-->infinity, there was no significant difference overall in the pharmacokinetics of chloroquine between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Fever was associated with lower chloroquine AUC0-->infinity values. Desethylchloroquine area under the curve (AUC) values were not significantly affected by pregnancy. CONCLUSIONS: Pregnancy did not significantly affect blood concentrations of chloroquine or its metabolite, desethylchloroquine, in women with P. vivax malaria.

Blacksell SD, Luksameetanasan R, Kalambaheti T, Wutheikanun V, Cheirakul W, Paris DH, Chueasuwanchai S, McGready R, Peacock SJ, Day NPJ. 2008. Phylogenetic and antigenic analysis of Orientia tsutsugamushi isolated from scrub typhus patients in Thailand INFECTION GENETICS AND EVOLUTION, 8 (4), pp. S11-S11.

White NJ, McGready RM, Nosten FH. 2008. New medicines for tropical diseases in pregnancy: catch-22. PLoS Med, 5 (6), pp. e133. | Read more

McGready R. 2008. On the nose BMJ, 336 (7655), pp. 1240-1240. | Read more

Poespoprodjo JR, Fobia W, Kenangalem E, Lampah DA, Warikar N, Seal A, McGready R, Sugiarto P, Tjitra E, Anstey NM, Price RN. 2008. Adverse pregnancy outcomes in an area where multidrug-resistant plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum infections are endemic. Clin Infect Dis, 46 (9), pp. 1374-1381. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium falciparum infection exerts a considerable burden on pregnant women, but less is known about the adverse consequences of Plasmodium vivax infection. METHODS: In Papua, Indonesia, where multiple drug resistance to both species has emerged, we conducted a cross-sectional hospital-based study to quantify the risks and consequences of maternal malaria. RESULTS: From April 2004 through December 2006, 3046 pregnant women were enrolled in the study. The prevalence of parasitemia at delivery was 16.8% (432 of 2570 women had infections), with 152 (35.2%) of these 432 infections being associated with fever. The majority of infections were attributable to P. falciparum (250 [57.9%]); 146 (33.8%) of the infections were attributable to P. vivax, and 36 (8.3%) were coinfections with both species. At delivery, P. falciparum infection was associated with severe anemia (hemoglobin concentration, <7 g/dL; odds ratio [OR], 2.8; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.0-4.0) and a 192 g (95% CI, 119-265) reduction in mean birth weight (P<.001). P. vivax infection was associated with an increased risk of moderate anemia (hemoglobin concentration, 7-11 g/dL; OR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.9; P=.01) and a 108 g (95% CI, 17.5-199) reduction in mean birth weight (P<.019). Parasitemia was associated with preterm delivery (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.0; P=.02) and stillbirth (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.3-4.1; P=.007) but was not associated with these outcomes after controlling for the presence of fever and severe anemia, suggesting that malaria increases the risk of preterm delivery and stillbirth through fever and contribution to severe anemia rather than through parasitemia per se. CONCLUSIONS: These observations highlight the need for novel, safe, and effective treatment and prevention strategies against both multidrug-resistant P. falciparum and multidrug-resistant P. vivax infections in pregnant women in areas of mixed endemicity.

McGready R, Nosten F. 2008. Symptomatic malaria in pregnancy. J Obstet Gynaecol, 28 (4), pp. 463. | Read more

Lwin KM, Ashley EA, Proux S, Silamut K, Nosten F, McGready R. 2008. Clinically uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria with high schizontaemia: a case report. Malar J, 7 (1), pp. 57. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The treatment options for acute Plasmodium falciparum malaria are based on the clinician classifying the patient as uncomplicated or severe according to the clinical and parasitological findings. This process is not always straightforward. CASE PRESENTATION: An adult male presented to a clinic on the western border of Thailand with a physical examination and P. falciparum trophozoite count (1.2% of infected red blood cells, IRBC) from malaria blood smear, consistent with a diagnosis of uncomplicated P. falciparum infection. However, the physician on duty treated the patient for severe malaria based on the reported P. falciparum schizont count, which was very high (0.3% IRBC), noticeably in relation to the trophozoite count and schizont:trophozoite ratio 0.25:1. On intravenous artesunate, the patient deteriorated clinically in the first 24 hours. The trophozoite count increased from 1.2% IRBC at baseline to 20.5% IRBC 18 hours following the start of treatment. By day three, the patient recovered and was discharged on day seven having completed a seven-day treatment with artesunate and mefloquine. CONCLUSION: The malaria blood smear provides only a guide to the overall parasite biomass in the body, due to the ability of P. falciparum to sequester in the microvasculature. In severe malaria, high schizont counts are associated with worse prognosis. In low transmission areas or in non-immune travelers the presence of schizonts in the peripheral circulation is an indication for close patient supervision. In this case, an unusually high schizont count in a clinically uncomplicated patient was indicative of potential deterioration. Prompt treatment with intravenous artesunate is likely to have been responsible for the good clinical outcome in this case.

Rijken MJ, McGready R, Boel ME, Barends M, Proux S, Pimanpanarak M, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2008. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine rescue treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy: a preliminary report. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 78 (4), pp. 543-545. | Show Abstract

Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHA-PPQ) is a promising new artemisinin combination treatment. There are no published data on the intentional use of the drug in pregnancy. Between June 2006 and January 2007, 50 Karen pregnant women with recurrent P. falciparum infections, despite 7-day treatments with quinine or artesunate (+/-clindamycin) or both, were treated with DHA-PPQ. This rescue treatment was effective and well tolerated and there was no evidence of toxicity for the mothers or the fetus. The PCR adjusted cure rate by Kaplan Meier analysis at day 63 was 92.2% (95% CI: 76.9-97.4).

Blacksell SD, Luksameetanasan R, Kalambaheti T, Aukkanit N, Paris DH, McGready R, Nosten F, Peacock SJ, Day NPJ. 2008. Genetic typing of the 56-kDa type-specific antigen gene of contemporary Orientia tsutsugamushi isolates causing human scrub typhus at two sites in north-eastern and western Thailand. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol, 52 (3), pp. 335-342. | Show Abstract | Read more

Orientia tsutsugamushi is the causative agent of scrub typhus, a major cause of febrile illness in the rural areas of Southeast Asia. Twenty-three strains of O. tsutsugamushi were isolated from patients with scrub typhus in north-east (Udorn Thani province) and western Thailand (Tak province) between 2003 and 2005. The isolates were characterized by sequencing the entire ORF of the 56-kDa-type-specific antigen gene, followed by phylogenetic analysis. The majority (15/23) of isolates clustered with the Karp-type strain, six with a Gilliam-type strain and one each with the TA716- and TA763-type strains. Overall, there was considerable diversity in sequence, comparable to that seen in strains from across the rest of the scrub typhus-endemic world. There was no significant difference in the distributions of strains between the two provinces (P=0.08, Fisher's exact) nor a temporal change in distribution with year of isolation (P=0.80, Fisher's exact). Within this diversity there were also examples of isolates with identical 56-kDa genotypes that were cultured from patients from the same geographical areas.

Tarning J, Ashley EA, Lindegardh N, Stepniewska K, Phaiphun L, Day NPJ, McGready R, Ashton M, Nosten F, White NJ. 2008. Population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine after two different treatment regimens with dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine in patients with Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 52 (3), pp. 1052-1061. | Show Abstract | Read more

The population pharmacokinetics of piperaquine in adults and children with uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria treated with two different dosage regimens of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were characterized. Piperaquine pharmacokinetics in 98 Burmese and Karen patients aged 3 to 55 years were described by a two-compartment disposition model with first-order absorption and interindividual random variability on all parameters and were similar with the three- and four-dose regimens. Children had a lower body weight-normalized oral clearance than adults, resulting in longer terminal elimination half-lives and higher total exposure to piperaquine (area under the concentration-time curve from 0 to 63 days [AUC day 0-63]). However, children had lower plasma concentrations in the therapeutically relevant posttreatment prophylactic period (AUC day 3-20) because of smaller body weight-normalized central volumes of distribution and shorter distribution half-lives. Our data lend further support to a simplified once-daily treatment regimen to improve treatment adherence and efficacy and indicate that weight-adjusted piperaquine doses in children may need to be higher than in adults.

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White NJ, McGready RM, Nosten FH. 2008. New medicines for tropical diseases in pregnancy: Catch-22 PLoS Medicine, 5 (6), pp. 0843-0844. | Read more

Mytton OT, McGready R, Lee SJ, Roberts CH, Ashley EA, Carrara VI, Thwai KL, Jay MP, Wiangambun T, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F. 2007. Safety of benzyl benzoate lotion and permethrin in pregnancy: a retrospective matched cohort study. BJOG, 114 (5), pp. 582-587. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety of benzyl benzoate lotion (BBL) and permethrin, topical treatments for scabies, during pregnancy. DESIGN: A retrospective controlled cohort study. POPULATION: Refugee and migrant women attending antenatal clinics (ANC) on the Thai-Burmese border between August 1993 and April 2006. METHODS: Women treated with either BBL (25%) or permethrin (4%) were identified from a manual search of antenatal records. Each case of scabies was matched with four scabies-free controls for gravidity, age, smoking status, malaria, period of treatment and gestational age at treatment. Conditional Poisson regression was used to estimate risk ratios for outcomes of pregnancy (proportion of abortions, congenital abnormalities, neonatal deaths, stillbirths and premature babies), mean birthweight and estimated median gestational age, for scabies and scabies-free women, independently for BBL and permethrin. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant differences in pregnancy outcomes between women who were treated with either BBL (n = 444) compared with their matched controls (n = 1,776) or permethrin (n = 196) treated women and their matched controls (n = 784). Overall, only 10.9% (n = 66) of treatments were in the first trimester. Retreatment rates were higher with BBL 16.4%, than permethrin 9.7%, P = 0.038. Scabies was more common during cooler periods. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence of adverse effects on pregnancy outcome due to topical 25% BBL or 4% permethrin.

Rijken M, Boel M, Barends M, Lindegardh N, McGready R, Nosten F. 2007. Dihydroartemisinin - piperaquine rescue treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy: a preliminary report TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 12 pp. 34-34.

McGready R, Kaveri SV, Lacroix-Desmazes S, Krudsood S, Newton PN. 2007. Acquired haemophilia A in early pregnancy associated with Plasmodium vivax malaria and hyperthyroidism. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 47 (1), pp. 76-77. | Read more

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, McGready R, Annerberg A, Hutagalung R, Singtoroj T, Hla G, Brockman A, Proux S et al. 2007. Pharmacokinetic study of artemether-lumefantrine given once daily for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Trop Med Int Health, 12 (2), pp. 201-208. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Adherence to antimalarial drug regimens is improved by simple dosing. If the fixed antimalarial drug combination artemether-lumefantrine (AL) could be given once daily, this should improve adherence and thus effectiveness and lower the risk of selecting for resistance. METHODS: In an open randomized study, 43 patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were given equivalent doses of AL with 200 ml flavoured milk either as the conventional twice-daily regimen or as a single daily dose for 3 days. The primary end point was a comparison of the areas under the plasma lumefantrine concentration-time curves (AUC). Secondary end points were the day 42 polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-adjusted cure rates and the tolerability profiles. RESULTS: Lumefantrine pharmacokinetic profiles were obtained for 36 patients. The AUC((0-->infinity)) of the once-daily regimen was 30% lower than that in the conventional regimen (P = 0.011) with a median (range) value of 306 (114-5781) microg/ml h, compared with 432 (308-992) microg/ml h. There was no significant difference in the peak plasma concentrations reached. PCR-adjusted cure rate estimates at day 42 of follow-up were 94% (95% CI: 84-100) in the six-dose arm and 85% (70-100) in the three-dose arm (P = 0.3). CONCLUSION: Artemether-lumefantrine efficacy is reduced by once-daily dosing, because absorption of lumefantrine is dose limited. At currently recommended doses, this antimalarial should be given twice daily in a 3-day regimen, with food containing fat.

Villegas L, McGready R, Htway M, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Arunjerdja R, Viladpai-Nguen SJ, Greenwood B, White NJ, Nosten F. 2007. Chloroquine prophylaxis against vivax malaria in pregnancy: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Trop Med Int Health, 12 (2), pp. 209-218. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the safety of chloroquine (CQ) as prophylaxis against Plasmodium vivax infection during pregnancy. METHOD: One thousand pregnant Karen women were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of chemoprophylaxis with chloroquine (500 mg phosphate (or 300 mg base) weekly). Women received a median (range) chloroquine phosphate total dose of 9500 (1500-17 500) mg. The mothers were actively followed from inclusion to delivery and their infants until 12 months of age. RESULTS: Chloroquine prophylaxis completely prevented P. vivax episodes; 10.1% (95%CI: 7.3-14.5) of women in the placebo group experienced at least one episode of vivax malaria but no episode occurred in women in the CQ group. By contrast, the numbers of P. falciparum episodes were similar in each group: 7.4% (95%CI: 3.7-11.1) and 5.6% (95%CI: 3.3-7.9) in the placebo and CQ groups respectively (P = 0.56). Chloroquine prophylaxis was well tolerated and there was no difference in the proportions of reported side effects between CQ treated and placebo groups except for the duration of palpitations and sleeping disorders which were more frequent in those who had received CQ. Chloroquine prophylaxis had no impact on maternal anaemia, birth weight, gestational age, development of newborns or on growth, neurological development or visual acuity in infants at 1 year of age. CONCLUSION: Chloroquine is safe and effective as prophylaxis against P. vivax during pregnancy in this population.

Nosten F, McGready R, Mutabingwa T. 2007. Case management of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 118-125. | Show Abstract | Read more

In all malarious areas, infection by any of the main human plasmodial species during pregnancy is detrimental to the mother and the fetus. These potentially fatal infections must be prevented, but when they develop they require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Current tools to detect malaria parasites in pregnant women are often not used and remain too insensitive to detect a low parasitaemia. The kinetics, safety, and efficacy of available antimalarial drugs are poorly documented because pregnant women are systematically excluded from clinical trials. A considerable effort, involving clinical trials, is urgently required to improve the diagnosis and case management of malaria during pregnancy if the morbidity and mortality of maternal malaria is to be reduced.

Ward SA, Sevene EJP, Hastings IM, Nosten F, McGready R. 2007. Antimalarial drugs and pregnancy: safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacovigilance. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 136-144. | Show Abstract | Read more

Before a recommendation for antimalarial drug use in pregnancy is made, it is essential that we understand the potential risks involved and have mechanisms in place to monitor risk during treatment. This requires data on drug disposition during pregnancy and potential toxicological liabilities to the developing fetus and mother. In most cases this information is not available. We review the reproductive toxicology of the main antimalarial drug classes in use or under development. Preclinical data are presented if appropriate, but as human experience overrides such data, in instances in which preclinical studies do not correlate with the human experience the data are reviewed only briefly. Additionally, we highlight the lack of appropriate drug disposition data in pregnancy and suggest mechanisms that can be used to capture data on risk after drug treatment in pregnancy.

Desai M, ter Kuile FO, Nosten F, McGready R, Asamoa K, Brabin B, Newman RD. 2007. Epidemiology and burden of malaria in pregnancy. Lancet Infect Dis, 7 (2), pp. 93-104. | Show Abstract | Read more

We reviewed evidence of the clinical implications and burden of malaria in pregnancy. Most studies come from sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 25 million pregnant women are at risk of Plasmodium falciparum infection every year, and one in four women have evidence of placental infection at the time of delivery. P falciparum infections during pregnancy in Africa rarely result in fever and therefore remain undetected and untreated. Meta-analyses of intervention trials suggest that successful prevention of these infections reduces the risk of severe maternal anaemia by 38%, low birthweight by 43%, and perinatal mortality by 27% among paucigravidae. Low birthweight associated with malaria in pregnancy is estimated to result in 100,000 infant deaths in Africa each year. Although paucigravidae are most affected by malaria, the consequences for infants born to multigravid women in Africa may be greater than previously appreciated. This is because HIV increases the risk of malaria and its adverse effects, particularly in multigravidae, and recent observational studies show that placental infection almost doubles the risk of malaria infection and morbidity in infants born to multigravidae. Outside Africa, malaria infection rates in pregnant women are much lower but are more likely to cause severe disease, preterm births, and fetal loss. Plasmodium vivax is common in Asia and the Americas and, unlike P falciparum, does not cytoadhere in the placenta, yet, is associated with maternal anaemia and low birthweight. The effect of infection in the first trimester, and the longer term effects of malaria beyond infancy, are largely unknown and may be substantial. Better estimates are also needed of the effects of malaria in pregnancy outside Africa, and on maternal morbidity and mortality in Africa. Global risk maps will allow better estimation of potential impact of successful control of malaria in pregnancy.

Uhlemann A-C, McGready R, Ashley EA, Brockman A, Singhasivanon P, Krishna S, White NJ, Nosten F, Price RN. 2007. Intrahost selection of Plasmodium falciparum pfmdr1 alleles after antimalarial treatment on the northwestern border of Thailand. J Infect Dis, 195 (1), pp. 134-141. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Increased pfmdr1 copy number is associated with reduced susceptibility to structurally unrelated antimalarial drugs. We assessed how administration of different antimalarial drugs altered pfmdr1 polymorphism in parasites from patients who experienced treatment failure. METHODS: In studies conducted on the northwestern border of Thailand, amplifications and single-nucleotide polymorphisms in pfmdr1 were compared before and after antimalarial drug treatment. RESULTS: Intrahost changes in pfmdr1 copy number were observed in 20% (26/132) of patients with recurrent infections. Among infections that recrudesced after mefloquine-containing regimens, increases in pfmdr1 copy number occurred in 68% (95% confidence interval [CI], 46%-85%), and decreases occurred in 2% (95% CI, 0.4%-11%) of isolates; corresponding proportions after artemether-lumefantrine were 25% (2/8) and 11% (2/19); after quinine, 50% (1/2) and 40% (4/10); and after artemisinins alone, 0% (0/10) and 19% (3/16) of isolates (overall P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: Intrahost selection based on pfmdr1 copy number occurs frequently in parasite populations within individual patients. Amplification confers multidrug resistance but probably imposes a significant fitness cost to the parasites.

Golfetto I, McGready R, Ghebremeskel K, Min Y, Dubowitz L, Nosten F, Drury P, Simpson JA, Arunjerdja R, Crawford MA. 2007. Fatty acid composition of milk of refugee Karen and urban Korean mothers. Is the level of DHA in breast milk of Western women compromised by high intake of saturated fat and linoleic acid? Nutr Health, 18 (4), pp. 319-332. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lower proportions of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and total n-3 metabolites have been reported in breast milk of European, Australian and North American women compared with milk of mothers from non-Western countries. This difference is not always explained by intakes of marine products. OBJECTIVE: We investigated the possibility that the relative composition of DHA and total n-3 metabolites in breast milk of non-Western mothers with low fat intakes is higher than the levels commonly reported in their Western counterparts. SUBJECTS: Mature milk of refugee Karen women from two different camps in Thailand (n=26 and n=53), and transition milk from urban Korean mothers (n=12) in Seoul was collected. In common with their respective community, the mothers have low fat intake, which is predominately of plant origin. RESULTS: The percentage levels of DHA and n-3 metabolites in the milk of the Karen mothers were 0.52 +/- 0.14 and 0.85 +/- 0.24 (camp 1) and 0.54 +/- 0.22 and 0.92 +/- 0.42 (camp 2). In the Korean milk, DHA was 0.96 +/- 0.21 and total n-3 metabolites 1.51 +/- 0.3. CONCLUSION: We postulate that the levels of DHA and total n-3 metabolites may be compromised in breast milk of mothers on the Western high fat diet. This calls into question the use of DHA composition of such milk as a reference for the formulation of milk designed, for infant feed or, to test the function of DHA in neuro-visual development.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Lindegardh N, Ashley EA, La Y, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. The pharmacokinetics of artemether and lumefantrine in pregnant women with uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 62 (12), pp. 1021-1031. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of artemether and lumefantrine (AL) in pregnant women with recrudescent uncomplicated multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: Pregnant women who had recurrence of parasitaemia following 7 days supervised quinine treatment were treated with AL. Serial blood samples were taken over a 7-day period, and pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated. For lumefantrine, these data were compared in a population pharmacokinetic model with data from non-pregnant, mainly male adults with acute malaria. RESULTS: The pregnant women (five in the second trimester and eight in the third trimester) had lower concentrations of artemether, dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine, and the elimination of lumefantrine in pregnant women was more rapid than reported previously in non-pregnant adults. CONCLUSION: Pregnancy is associated with reduced plasma concentrations of both artemether and lumefantrine. This is likely to be of therapeutic significance as plasma concentrations of lumefantrine, after elimination of artemether, are an important determinant of cure. Further studies are needed to determine the optimum dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine in pregnancy.

Ashley E, McGready R, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, Carrara V, Price R. 2006. In vivo sensitivity monitoring of mefloquine monotherapy and artesunate-mefloquine combinations for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Thailand in 2003. Trop Med Int Health, 11 (12), pp. 1898-1899. | Read more

Ashley E, McGready R, Singhasivanon P, Nosten F, Carrara V, Price R. 2006. Untitled TROPICAL MEDICINE & INTERNATIONAL HEALTH, 11 (12), pp. 1898-1899. | Read more

Ashley EA, Lwin KM, McGready R, Simon WH, Phaiphun L, Proux S, Wangseang N, Taylor W, Stepniewska K, Nawamaneerat W et al. 2006. An open label randomized comparison of mefloquine-artesunate as separate tablets vs. a new co-formulated combination for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in Thailand. Trop Med Int Health, 11 (11), pp. 1653-1660. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Delivering drugs in a fixed combination is essential to the success of the strategy of artemisinin-based combination therapy. This prevents one drug being taken without the protection of the other, reducing the chance of emergence and spread of drug resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum. A lower tablet burden should also facilitate adherence to treatment. A new fixed combination of mefloquine plus artesunate has been developed. This was compared with the conventional regimen of separate tablets for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: On the north-western border of Thailand 500 adults and children with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to receive either the new fixed combination or separate tablets. They were followed up weekly for 63 days. RESULTS: The day 63 polymerase chain reaction-adjusted cure rates were 91.9% (95% CI 88.2-95.6) in the fixed combination group and 89.2% (85.0-93.4) in the loose tablets group (P=0.3). There was a lower incidence of early vomiting in the group receiving the fixed combination. CONCLUSION: This new fixed combination of mefloquine and artesunate was efficacious, well tolerated and convenient to administer.

Ashley EA, Stepniewska K, Lindegårdh N, McGready R, Hutagalung R, Hae R, Singhasivanon P, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. Population pharmacokinetic assessment of a new regimen of mefloquine used in combination treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 50 (7), pp. 2281-2285. | Show Abstract | Read more

A fixed artesunate-mefloquine combination, comprising three daily doses of 8 mg of mefloquine/kg of body weight and 4 mg of artesunate/kg, has been developed recently. This study was designed to construct a population pharmacokinetic model describing this new dosage regimen of mefloquine given as loose tablets together with artesunate. In two randomized trials in Thailand which evaluated the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of this new regimen, the members of a subgroup of 50 patients were randomized to have capillary blood sampling before treatment and at five randomly assigned time points during the 63-day follow-up period. Mefloquine levels in capillary whole blood were assayed by liquid chromatography with UV detection. A pharmacokinetic model for mefloquine was constructed using mixed-effects modeling. A one-compartment model with first-order absorption and elimination was selected to describe the kinetic properties of mefloquine. For capillary whole-blood mefloquine, the area under the concentration curve (AUC) was 40% higher than previous estimates for patients given the equivalent conventional-dose regimen (mefloquine given as 15 mg/kg and then 10 mg/kg on the second and third days of treatment). The half-life (t1/2) of the carboxylic acid metabolite was estimated as 26 days, and the metabolite was eliminated more slowly than the parent drug (population t1/2 estimate, 10.5 days). Splitting the 25 mg/kg dose of mefloquine into three doses of 8 mg/kg each resulted in improved oral bioavailability compared to the conventional split-dose regimen results. This new regimen is well tolerated and results in an equivalent therapeutic response.

Nosten F, Ashley E, McGready R, Price R. 2006. We still need artesunate monotherapy. BMJ, 333 (7557), pp. 45. | Read more

Stuetz W, McGready R, Cho T, Prapamontol T, Biesalski HK, Stepniewska K, Nosten F. 2006. Relation of DDT residues to plasma retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene during pregnancy and malaria infection: a case-control study in Karen women in northern Thailand. Sci Total Environ, 363 (1-3), pp. 78-86. | Show Abstract | Read more

Populations living in endemic malaria areas maybe exposed simultaneously to DDT and malaria infection. DDT may impair status of vitamins, which are implicated in the immunity and pathophysiology of malaria. To explore possible interactions, DDT residues, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene and cholesterol were measured in plasma samples of malaria-infected pregnant women (cases, n=50) and age matched malaria-free controls (n=58). DDT residues were found in all samples: mean (sd) total DDT levels of 29.7 and 32.7 ng/ml in cases and controls, respectively. Mean (sd) p,p'-DDT was higher in the controls than the cases (13.5 vs. 9.5 ng/ml, p=0.006). Malaria infection was associated with lower mean (sd) plasma retinol (0.69 vs. 1.23 micromol/L) and cholesterol (2.62 vs. 3.48 mmol/L) compared to controls (p<0.001). Mean (sd) plasma alpha-tocopherol (7.65 vs. 15.58 micromol/L) and alpha-tocopherol/cholesterol ratio (2.3 vs. 6.7 micromol/L/mmol/L) were significantly lower among the controls (p<0.001). Mean (sd) plasma beta-carotene was low (<0.3 micromol/L) in both groups, but higher among malaria cases (0.19 vs. 0.15 micromol/L). Plasma retinol among the controls showed highly significant positive correlations with individual DDT compounds, particularly with p,p'-DDT (r=0.51, p<0.001). Plasma alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene seemed not to be affected by DDT residues.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Ward SA, Cho T, Gilveray G, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2006. Pharmacokinetics of dihydroartemisinin following oral artesunate treatment of pregnant women with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 62 (5), pp. 367-371. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) following oral artesunate treatment in women with recrudescent multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria, in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. METHODS: Serial plasma concentrations of artesunate and DHA were measured in 24 women after the final dose of a 3 day treatment with artesunate (4 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) and atovaquone (20 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) plus proguanil (8 mg kg(-1) day(-1)), daily. Conventional non-compartmental modelling and a population one-compartment pharmacokinetic model were applied to the data. RESULTS: Artesunate was very rapidly eliminated. For DHA the median [90% range] estimate of oral clearance (CI/F) was 4.0 [0.8-20.7] l hour(-1) kg(-1), total apparent volume of distribution (Vd/f) was 3.4 [0.9-60.7] l/kg, and terminal elimination half-life was 1.0 [0.6-2.4] h. CONCLUSION: The kinetics of DHA are modified by pregnancy. The plasma levels of the active antimalarial metabolite DHA are lower than reported previously in non-pregnant adults. Dose-optimisation studies in pregnant women are needed.

Ashley E, McGready R, Proux S, Nosten F. 2006. Malaria. Travel Med Infect Dis, 4 (3-4), pp. 159-173. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria is increasing worldwide due to the emergence and spread of drug resistant strains. This poses major health and economic problems for the population living in endemic areas and increases the risk of infections in travelers. The diagnosis of malaria relies on a biological proof of infection by microscopy or with a rapid test. The treatment must be initiated without delay preferably with an artemisinin containing regimen. Uncomplicated malaria can be treated with oral drugs while severe infections will be hospitalized and treated with injectables. Special attention will be given to the most susceptible groups: children and pregnant women.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Tan SO, Brabin B, Nosten F. 2006. Re: Malaria in pregnancy. BJOG, 113 (2), pp. 246. | Read more

Carrara VI, Sirilak S, Thonglairuam J, Rojanawatsirivet C, Proux S, Gilbos V, Brockman A, Ashley EA, McGready R, Krudsood S et al. 2006. Deployment of early diagnosis and mefloquine-artesunate treatment of falciparum malaria in Thailand: the Tak Malaria Initiative. PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e183. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Early diagnosis and treatment with artesunate-mefloquine combination therapy (MAS) have reduced the transmission of falciparum malaria dramatically and halted the progression of mefloquine resistance in camps for displaced persons along the Thai-Burmese border, an area of low and seasonal transmission of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. We extended the same combination drug strategy to all other communities (estimated population 450,000) living in five border districts of Tak province in northwestern Thailand. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Existing health structures were reinforced. Village volunteers were trained to use rapid diagnostic tests and to treat positive cases with MAS. Cases of malaria, hospitalizations, and malaria-related deaths were recorded in the 6 y before, during, and after the Tak Malaria Initiative (TMI) intervention. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted before and during the TMI period. P. falciparum malaria cases fell by 34% (95% confidence interval [CI], 33.5-34.4) and hospitalisations for falciparum malaria fell by 39% (95% CI, 37.0-39.9) during the TMI period, while hospitalisations for P. vivax malaria remained constant. There were 32 deaths attributed to malaria during, and 22 after the TMI, a 51.5% (95% CI, 39.0-63.9) reduction compared to the average of the previous 3 y. Cross-sectional surveys indicated that P. vivax had become the predominant species in Thai villages, but not in populations living on the Myanmar side of the border. In the displaced persons population, where the original deployment took place 7 y before the TMI, the transmission of P. falciparum continued to be suppressed, the incidence of falciparum malaria remained low, and the in vivo efficacy of the 3-d MAS remained high. CONCLUSIONS: In the remote malarious north western border area of Thailand, the early detection of malaria by trained village volunteers, using rapid diagnostic tests and treatment with mefloquine-artesunate was feasible and reduced the morbidity and mortality of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum.

Fernández FM, Cody RB, Green MD, Hampton CY, McGready R, Sengaloundeth S, White NJ, Newton PN. 2006. Characterization of solid counterfeit drug samples by desorption electrospray ionization and direct-analysis-in-real-time coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry. ChemMedChem, 1 (7), pp. 702-705. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vacuum is not the limit: direct analysis in real time (DART), a new MS ionization method, allows probing of pharmaceuticals under atmospheric pressure, thus bypassing lengthy sample preparation steps and enhancing throughput. DART allows rapid screening of solid drugs at almost constant temperature which decreases errors in mass measurement and improves the identification of potentially harmful unknowns. This is important for identifying counterfeit drugs (fake hologram shown). © 2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P, Whitty CJM, Talisuna AO et al. 2006. Manslaughter by fake artesunate in Asia--will Africa be next? PLoS Med, 3 (6), pp. e197. | Read more

Newton PN, McGready R, Fernandez F, Green MD, Sunjio M, Bruneton C, Phanouvong S, Millet P, Whitty CJM, Talisuna AO et al. 2006. Correction: Manslaughter by Fake Artesunate in Asia—Will Africa Be Next? PLoS Medicine, 3 (8), pp. e324-e324. | Read more

Nosten F, McGready R, d'Alessandro U, Bonell A, Verhoeff F, Menendez C, Mutabingwa T, Brabin B. 2006. Antimalarial drugs in pregnancy: a review. Curr Drug Saf, 1 (1), pp. 1-15. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this review we examine the available information on the safety of antimalarials in pregnancy, from both animal and human studies. The antimalarials that can be used in pregnancy include (1) chloroquine, (2) amodiaquine, (3) quinine, (4) azithromycin, (5) sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, (6) mefloquine, (7) dapsone-chlorproguanil, (8) artemisinin derivatives, (9) atovaquone-proguanil and (10) lumefantrine. Antimalarial drugs that should not be used in pregnancy including (1) halofantrine, (2) tetracycline/doxycycline, and (3) primaquine. There are few studies in humans on the pharmacokinetics, safety and efficacy of antimalarials in pregnancy. This is because pregnant women are systematically excluded from clinical trials. The absence of adequate safety data, especially in the first trimester, is an important obstacle to developing treatment strategies. The pharmacokinetics of most antimalarial drugs are also modified in pregnancy and dosages will need to be adapted. Other factors, including HIV status, drug interactions with antiretrovirals, the influence of haematinics and host genetic polymorphisms may influence safety and efficacy. For these reasons there is an urgent need to assess the safety and efficacy of antimalarial treatments in pregnancy, including artemisinin based combination therapies.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Moo E, Cho T, Barends M, Hutagalung R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2005. A randomized comparison of artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil versus quinine in treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria during pregnancy. J Infect Dis, 192 (5), pp. 846-853. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is no safe, practical, and effective treatment for pregnant women infected with multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. METHODS: We recruited pregnant Karen women in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy who had uncomplicated falciparum malaria for a randomized, open-label trial with a restricted sequential trial design of 7 days of supervised quinine (SQ7) versus 3 days of artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil (AAP). RESULTS: Eight-one pregnant women entered the study between December 2001 and July 2003; 42 were treated with SQ7 and 39 were treated with AAP. Fever, parasite clearance, and duration of anemia were significantly better with AAP; the treatment failure rate was 7 times lower (5% [2/39] vs. 37% [15/41]; relative risk, 7.1 [95% confidence interval, 1.7-29.2]; P = .001). There were no significant differences in birth weight, duration of gestation, or congenital abnormality rates in newborns or in growth and developmental parameters of infants monitored for 1 year. CONCLUSION: AAP is a well-tolerated, effective, practical, but expensive treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. Despite the small number of subjects, our results add to the growing body of evidence that AAP is safe for the mother and the fetus.

Ashley EA, McGready R, Hutagalung R, Phaiphun L, Slight T, Proux S, Thwai KL, Barends M, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2005. A randomized, controlled study of a simple, once-daily regimen of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated, multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Clin Infect Dis, 41 (4), pp. 425-432. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a fixed-combination antimalarial drug increasingly deployed in Southeast Asia. The current regimen involves 4 doses given over 3 days. Simplification of the dose regimen should facilitate treatment adherence and thereby increase effectiveness. METHODS: In a randomized, controlled, 3-arm trial conducted along the northwestern border of Thailand, the standard 4-dose course of DP (DP4) was compared to an equivalent dose given as a once-daily regimen (DP3) and to the standard treatment of mefloquine-artesunate (MAS3). RESULTS: A total of 499 patients were included in the study. Times to fever and parasite clearance were similar in all groups. The PCR genotyping-adjusted cure rates at day 63 after treatment initiation were 95.7% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 92.2%-98.9%) for MAS3, 100% for DP4, and 99.4% (95% CI, 98.1%-100%) for DP3. The DP4 and DP3 cure rates were significantly higher than that for MAS3 (P=.008 and P=.03, respectively). All regimens were well tolerated. There were 3 deaths (1 in the MAS3 group and 2 in the DP3 group), all of which were considered to be unrelated to treatment. Rates of other adverse events were comparable between the groups, except for diarrhea, which was more common in the DP4 group (P=.05 vs. the MAS3 group). CONCLUSIONS: A once-daily, 3-dose regimen of DP is a highly efficacious treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. This simple, safe, and relatively inexpensive fixed combination could become the treatment of choice for falciparum malaria.

Nacher M, McGready R, Lermoo C, Wichiponpiboon J, Nosten F. 2005. Photoallergy to quinine. Trop Doct, 35 (2), pp. 117-118. | Read more

Nosten F, McGready R, Ashley E, White NJ. 2005. Malaria misconceptions. Lancet, 365 (9460), pp. 653. | Read more

Hutagalung R, Paiphun L, Ashley EA, McGready R, Brockman A, Thwai KL, Singhasivanon P, Jelinek T, White NJ, Nosten FH. 2005. A randomized trial of artemether-lumefantrine versus mefloquine-artesunate for the treatment of uncomplicated multi-drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum on the western border of Thailand. Malar J, 4 pp. 46. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The use of antimalarial drug combinations with artemisinin derivatives is recommended to overcome drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum. The fixed combination of oral artemether-lumefantrine, an artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is highly effective and well tolerated. It is the only registered fixed combination containing an artemisinin. The trial presented here was conducted to monitor the efficacy of the six-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine (ALN) in an area of multi-drug resistance, along the Thai-Myanmar border. METHODS: The trial was an open-label, two-arm, randomized study comparing artemether-lumefantrine and mefloquine-artesunate for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria with 42 days of follow up. Parasite genotyping by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to distinguish recrudescent from newly acquired P. falciparum infections. The PCR adjusted cure rates were evaluated by survival analysis. RESULTS: In 2001-2002 a total of 490 patients with slide confirmed uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to receive artemether-lumefantrine (n = 245) or artesunate and mefloquine (n = 245) and were followed for 42 days. All patients had rapid initial clinical and parasitological responses. In both groups, the PCR adjusted cure rates by day 42 were high: 98.8% (95% CI 96.4, 99.6%) for artemether-lumefantrine and 96.3% (95% CI 93.1, 98.0%) for artesunate-mefloquine. Both regimens were very well tolerated with no serious adverse events observed attributable to either combination. CONCLUSION: Overall, this study confirms that these two artemisinin-based combinations remain highly effective and result in equivalent therapeutic responses in the treatment of highly drug-resistant falciparum malaria.

Nosten F, McGready R, Ashley E, White NJ. 2005. Malaria misconceptions The Lancet, 365 (9460), pp. 653-653. | Read more

Dondorp AM, Newton PN, Mayxay M, Van Damme W, Smithuis FM, Yeung S, Petit A, Lynam AJ, Johnson A, Hien TT et al. 2004. Fake antimalarials in Southeast Asia are a major impediment to malaria control: multinational cross-sectional survey on the prevalence of fake antimalarials. Trop Med Int Health, 9 (12), pp. 1241-1246. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the prevalence of counterfeit antimalarial drugs in Southeast (SE) Asia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Pharmacies and shops selling antimalarial drugs in Myanmar (Burma), Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of artemisinin derivatives or mefloquine containing drugs of substandard quality. RESULTS: Of the 188 tablet packs purchased which were labelled as 'artesunate' 53% did not contain any artesunate. All counterfeit artesunate tablets were labelled as manufactured by 'Guilin Pharma', and refinements of the fake blisterpacks made them often hard to distinguish from their genuine counterparts. No other artemisinin derivatives were found to be counterfeited. Of the 44 mefloquine samples, 9% contained <10% of the expected amount of active ingredient. CONCLUSIONS: An alarmingly high proportion of antimalarial drugs bought in pharmacies and shops in mainland SE Asia are counterfeit, and the problem has increased significantly compared with our previous survey in 1999-2000. This is a serious threat to public health in the region.

Ashley EA, Krudsood S, Phaiphun L, Srivilairit S, McGready R, Leowattana W, Hutagalung R, Wilairatana P, Brockman A, Looareesuwan S et al. 2004. Randomized, controlled dose-optimization studies of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in Thailand. J Infect Dis, 190 (10), pp. 1773-1782. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) is a new and relatively inexpensive artemisinin-containing fixed-combination antimalarial treatment. An adult treatment course contained 6.4 mg/kg dihydroartemisinin (DHA), which is >40% lower than the level in most artemisinin-containing combinations. This raised the possibility that the efficacy of the current coformulation may not be optimal in the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. METHODS: In 2 large randomized, controlled studies in Thailand, the recommended dose of DP was compared with a regimen with additional artemisinin derivative (12 mg/kg; DP+) and with mefloquine plus artesunate (MAS3). RESULTS: A total of 731 patients were included: 201 in a hospital-based study and 530 in a community study. Day-28 cure rates in the hospital-based study were 100% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93.9%-100%) in the MAS3 and DP+ groups and 98.3% (95% CI, 91%-99.7%) in the DP group, with a single recrudescence on day 21. In the community study, polymerase chain reaction genotyping-adjusted cure rates on day 63 were 96.1% (95% CI, 92.6%-99.7%) in the DP group, 98.3% (95% CI, 96.1%-100%) in the DP+ group, and 94.9% (95% CI, 91.2%-98.6%) in the MAS3 group (P=.2). Adverse events were few, with an excess of mild abdominal pain in the DP group. CONCLUSIONS: The current dosage of DP (6.4 mg/kg DHA and 51.2 mg/kg piperaquine phosphate) given over the course of 48 h is highly effective, safe, and well tolerated for the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria, and its efficacy is not improved by the addition of more DHA.

Nosten F, Rogerson SJ, Beeson JG, McGready R, Mutabingwa TK, Brabin B. 2004. Malaria in pregnancy and the endemicity spectrum: what can we learn? Trends Parasitol, 20 (9), pp. 425-432. | Show Abstract | Read more

The increased susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria infection has long been recognized, but the magnitude of the disease burden in this particular group, together with the pathophysiology of maternal malaria and the specific difficulties in treatment, have only recently been the focus of research. Most research on maternal malaria has derived from sub-Saharan Africa where transmission is high, whereas most of the studies on the treatment of malaria and the effect of non-falciparum species has been conducted in low-transmission areas of Asia. In this paper, we attempt to improve our understanding of the disease and its mechanisms from observed differences and similarities between contrasting areas of transmission, and to identify priorities for future research.

McGready R, Ashley EA, Nosten F. 2004. Malaria and the pregnant traveller. Travel Med Infect Dis, 2 (3-4), pp. 127-142. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria in pregnancy contributes to significant maternal and foetal mortality and morbidity in women in the tropics. Adverse effects for non-immune travellers are potentially devastating for mother and foetus. Women travellers should always be strongly advised against visiting malarious areas if they are pregnant or intend to get pregnant. Chemoprophylactic and treatment options for pregnant women (or those planning to conceive) are extremely limited and lag behind what can currently be offered to non-pregnant travellers. This is because of spread of multi-resistant strains of P. falciparum. Personal protection from malaria vectors remains essential. Mosquito-net and skin repellents (DEET (20%)) are effective. Diagnosis of malaria in travellers is difficult and is more likely to be missed in pregnant travellers due to lower parasitaemia. Pregnant women can succumb rapidly to severe malaria. Should the returned traveller survive an episode of malaria in pregnancy and go on to deliver, the adverse effects on the infant are potentially irreversible. These risks need to be clearly communicated.

Price RN, Uhlemann A-C, Brockman A, McGready R, Ashley E, Phaipun L, Patel R, Laing K, Looareesuwan S, White NJ et al. 2004. Mefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum and increased pfmdr1 gene copy number. Lancet, 364 (9432), pp. 438-447. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The borders of Thailand harbour the world's most multidrug resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites. In 1984 mefloquine was introduced as treatment for uncomplicated falciparum malaria, but substantial resistance developed within 6 years. A combination of artesunate with mefloquine now cures more than 95% of acute infections. For both treatment regimens, the underlying mechanisms of resistance are not known. METHODS: The relation between polymorphisms in the P falciparum multidrug resistant gene 1 (pfmdr1) and the in-vitro and in-vivo responses to mefloquine were assessed in 618 samples from patients with falciparum malaria studied prospectively over 12 years. pfmdr1 copy number was assessed by a robust real-time PCR assay. Single nucleotide polymorphisms of pfmdr1, P falciparum chloroquine resistance transporter gene (pfcrt) and P falciparum Ca2+ ATPase gene (pfATP6) were assessed by PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism. FINDINGS: Increased copy number of pfmdr1 was the most important determinant of in-vitro and in-vivo resistance to mefloquine, and also to reduced artesunate sensitivity in vitro. In a Cox regression model with control for known confounders, increased pfmdr1 copy number was associated with an attributable hazard ratio (AHR) for treatment failure of 6.3 (95% CI 2.9-13.8, p<0.001) after mefloquine monotherapy and 5.4 (2.0-14.6, p=0.001) after artesunate-mefloquine therapy. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in pfmdr1 were associated with increased mefloquine susceptibility in vitro, but not in vivo. INTERPRETATION: Amplification in pfmdr1 is the main cause of resistance to mefloquine in falciparum malaria. RELEVANCE TO PRACTICE: Multidrug resistant P falciparum malaria is common in southeast Asia, but difficult to identify and treat. Genes that encode parasite transport proteins maybe involved in export of drugs and so cause resistance. In this study we show that increase in copy number of pfmdr1, a gene encoding a parasite transport protein, is the best overall predictor of treatment failure with mefloquine. Increase in pfmdr1 copy number predicts failure even after chemotherapy with the highly effective combination of mefloquine and 3 days' artesunate. Monitoring of pfmdr1 copy number will be useful in epidemiological surveys of drug resistance in P falciparum, and potentially for predicting treatment failure in individual patients.

Nacher M, Carrara VI, Ashley E, McGready R, Hutagalung R, Nguen JV, Thwai KL, Looareesuwan S, Nosten F. 2004. Seasonal variation in hyperparasitaemia and gametocyte carriage in patients with Plasmodium falciparum malaria on the Thai-Burmese border. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 98 (5), pp. 322-328. | Show Abstract | Read more

Between January 2000 and December 2002 monthly rainfall was correlated with the proportion of patients with hyperparasitaemic Plasmodium falciparum malaria and with the proportion of patients with P. falciparum gametocytes. During the observation period 6953 cases of P. falciparum malaria were treated at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Maela refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border. Three hundred and seventy-five of these patients had >/=4% of parasitized red blood cells. Although there were more monthly malaria cases in the rainy season, rainfall was negatively correlated with the proportion of patients with hyperparasitaemia (Spearman's rho = -0.59, P < 0.001 ), and the proportion of gametocyte carriers among P. falciparum cases, (Spearman's rho = -0.39, P = 0.018). After controlling for age and the origin of the patient, the odds ratio for developing hyperparasitaemia during the dry season was 1.6 (95% CI 1.14-2.2; P = 0.006). The adjusted odds ratio for gametocyte carriage during the dry season was 1.3 (95% CI 1.03-1.6; P = 0.02). Migrations, changes in transmission patterns, the haematological burden of cumulative infections, and ultraviolet immunosuppression are discussed as potential explanations for these observations.

Brabin BJ, Romagosa C, Abdelgalil S, Menéndez C, Verhoeff FH, McGready R, Fletcher KA, Owens S, D'Alessandro U, Nosten F et al. 2004. The sick placenta-the role of malaria. Placenta, 25 (5), pp. 359-378. | Show Abstract | Read more

The human placenta is an ideal site for the accumulation of Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites, and as a consequence serious health problems arise for the mother and her baby. The pathogenesis of placental malaria is only partially understood, but it is clear that it leads to a distinct epidemiological pattern of malaria during pregnancy. The objectives of this review are: (1) To review recent data on the epidemiology of malaria in pregnancy, with emphasis on placental malaria; (2) to describe the pathological changes and immunological factors related to placental malaria; and (3) to discuss briefly the functional consequences of this infection for the mother and her baby. The review attempts to bring together local events at the maternal-fetal interface which encompass immunological and pathological processes which relate to the epidemiological pattern of malaria in pregnancy in areas of both high and low malaria transmission. An integrated understanding of the epidemiological, immunological and pathological processes must be achieved in order to understand how to control malaria in pregnancy. The yearly exposure of at least 50 million pregnancies to malaria infection makes it the commonest and most recurrent parasitic infection directly affecting the placenta. These statistics and our limited understanding of its pathogenesis suggest the research priorities on this subject.

McGready R, Davison BB, Stepniewska K, Cho T, Shee H, Brockman A, Udomsangpetch R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Meshnick SR, Nosten F. 2004. The effects of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infections on placental histopathology in an area of low malaria transmission. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 70 (4), pp. 398-407. | Show Abstract

Placental histopathology was studied in a cohort of 204 women living in an area of low Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax malaria transmission. Detection of malaria antenatally was active, by weekly peripheral blood smears, and all infections were treated. Significant histopathologic placental malaria changes (increased malaria pigment, cytotrophoblastic prominence, and presence of parasites) were found only in a minority of women who had P. falciparum infections in pregnancy. These changes were significantly more frequent in women with evidence of peripheral blood infection close to delivery and only in these cases were placental inflammatory cells increased. Antenatal P. vivax infection was associated only with the presence of malaria pigment in the placenta. All placental infections diagnosed by blood smear and 32.4% (12 of 37) diagnosed by histopathology were associated with patent peripheral parasitemia. This study indicates that prompt treatment of peripheral parasitemias during pregnancy limits placental pathology. The effect on birth weight reduction may not result from irreversible placental changes but from the acute insult of infection. These findings emphasize the importance of treating malaria in pregnancy promptly with effective antimalarial drugs.

Nacher M, Carrara VI, McGready R, Ashley E, Nguen JV, Thwai KL, Looareesuwan S, Nosten F. 2004. Seasonal fluctuations in the carriage of Plasmodium vivax gametocytes in Thailand. Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 98 (2), pp. 115-120. | Show Abstract | Read more

To study the influence of season on Plasmodium vivax gametocyte carriage, the relationship between monthly rainfall and the proportion of P. vivax patients with detectable gametocytaemia was analysed. Most of the data used came from 6807 aggregated observations collected, in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burmese border, between January 2000 and December 2002. There was a positive correlation between rainfall and the incidence of P. vivax infection (Spearman's rho=+0.42; P =0.01) but the prevalence of gametocyte carriage among those with P. vivax infection was negatively correlated with rainfall (Spearman's rho=-0.58; P <0.001). The latter, negative correlation remained significant after controlling for the proportion of visitors relative to camp residents (P =0.003). Migrations, changes in transmission patterns, seasonal haematological changes, and ultraviolet immunosuppression are discussed as potential explanations for these observations.

Chaisavaneeyakorn S, Kongtawelert P, Angkasekwinai P, McGready R, Nosten F, Chaiyaroj SC. 2004. Inhibitory activities of sulfated proteoglycans on chondroitin sulfate A-mediated cytoadherence of Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Thailand. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 70 (2), pp. 149-157. | Show Abstract

Chondroitin sulfate A (CSA) is an important receptor for Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in the placenta. To study the molecular interaction between parasitized erythrocytes (PE) to CSA, we performed in vitro cytoadherence inhibition assays of PE infected with wild and laboratory isolates of P. falciparum to CSA using various glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Marked decrease in PE adhesion to immobilized CSA and CSA-expressed cells was achieved with soluble chondroitin sulfate D (CSD) and chondroitin sulfate E (CSE) at low concentrations. The effect was dose dependent with the degree of inhibition exceeded that of soluble CSA in certain clinical isolates. The results suggested the influence of oversulfation of CS variant chains on PE adherence to CSA. Interestingly, PE of the tested wild isolates could adhere to immobilized CSD and CSE at different levels while PE of CSA-selected laboratory lines could not. Partial inhibitory activity was observed when chondroitin sulfate C (CSC), chondroitin sulfate B (CSB), and polyolpolysulfate were used even at high concentrations. Keratan sulfate, colominic acid, and Suramine were unable to inhibit PE adherence. Taken together, the results confirm that the 4-sulfate amino sugar moiety, as well as the basic disaccharide structure of N-acetylgalactosamine linked to glucuronic acid, may influence the degree of this molecular interaction. However, other sulfation patterns that could influence the interaction could not be overlooked, as in the case of CSD which contains 2-O-sulfation at glucuronic acid. Studies using pentosan polysulfate, an oversulfated molecule with a xylan backbone, as an inhibitor also showed a reduction of PE adherence of most isolates tested. Thus, only the sulfate content and pattern of this molecule could affect the adhesive interactions. In addition, difference in capacity of low molecular weight heparins to inhibit CSA-mediated PE cytoadherence of clinical isolates was also observed, thereby providing evidence on the heterogeneity in cytoadherence characteristics of maternal parasite isolates as well as their therapeutic potentials.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Seaton E, Cho T, Cho D, Ginsberg A, Edstein MD, Ashley E, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2003. Pregnancy and use of oral contraceptives reduces the biotransformation of proguanil to cycloguanil. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 59 (7), pp. 553-557. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of late pregnancy and also oestrogen supplementation on the CYP2C19-mediated biotransformation of proguanil (PG) to its active antifol triazine metabolite cycloguanil (CG). METHODS: Case control study conducted on the NW border of Thailand; a single dose of PG (4 mg/kg) was administered to Karen women in late pregnancy and a single blood and urine sample taken 6 h later. Women were studied in late pregnancy (>36 weeks) and restudied 2 months after delivery. A separate cohort of Karen women newly attending a birth-control clinic were studied before and 3 weeks into their first course of oral contraceptives (OCP: levonorgestrel 0.15 mg and ethinyloestradiol 0.03 mg). Forty-five pregnant women and forty-two healthy OCP users were studied. RESULTS: The results were similar in both groups; pregnancy and OCP use were both associated with reduced formation of cycloguanil (CG). Impaired PG biotransformation was seen in women with the "extensive metaboliser" phenotype (urine PG/CG ratio <10). CG levels, adjusted for dose, were a median (range) 73% (-59 to 420%) higher following the pregnancy than during the pregnancy in women characterised as extensive metabolisers ( P<0.001). CG levels in women characterised as extensive metabolisers were 34% (-54 to 323%) higher before than while taking the OCP ( P<0.01). CONCLUSION: Late pregnancy and OCP use impair biotransformation of the active antimalarial metabolite CG from the parent PG. This may be mediated by oestrogen inhibition of CYP2C19 activity. The dose of PG should be increased by 50% in these groups.

McGready R, Stepniewska K, Edstein MD, Cho T, Gilveray G, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2003. The pharmacokinetics of atovaquone and proguanil in pregnant women with acute falciparum malaria. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 59 (7), pp. 545-552. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To determine the pharmacokinetic properties of atovaquone, proguanil, and the triazine metabolite cycloguanil in women with recrudescent multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy treated by artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil. METHODS: Serial plasma concentrations of atovaquone, proguanil and cycloguanil were measured in 24 women at baseline and after the final dose of the 3-day treatment with atovaquone (20 mg/kg/day) plus proguanil (8 mg/kg/day) plus artesunate (4 mg/kg/day) daily. RESULTS: The triple combination was well tolerated and highly effective. The outcomes of pregnancy were all normal. Population mean (+/- SEM) oral clearance (Cl/F) estimates were 313+/-33 ml/h/kg and 1109+/-43 ml/h/kg, total apparent volume of distribution (Vd/F) 13.0+/-1.3 l/kg and 22.9+/-1.4 l/kg, and terminal elimination half-life; 29.1 h and 14.3 h, for atovaquone and proguanil, respectively. Using conventional and population pharmacokinetic analyses, Cl/F and Vd/F estimates for both drugs were approximately twice, and plasma concentrations less than half those reported previously in healthy subjects and patients with acute malaria. CONCLUSION: Artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil is a promising treatment for multi-drug resistant falciparum malaria during pregnancy, but the dose of atovaquone-proguanil may need to be increased.

McGready R, Simpson JA, Arunjerdja R, Golfetto I, Ghebremeskel K, Taylor A, Siemieniuk A, Mercuri E, Harper G, Dubowitz L et al. 2003. Delayed visual maturation in Karen refugee infants. Ann Trop Paediatr, 23 (3), pp. 193-204. | Show Abstract | Read more

Thirty-eight babies born to Karen mothers living in camps for displaced persons in north-western Thailand have delayed visual maturation (DVM type 1) that recovers within 6 months. Vitamin A concentrations were deficient in 16% of breast-milk samples from lactating mothers and vitamin B(1) concentrations were deficient in 60% of plasma samples. Infantile beriberi was common in this population. The levels of fatty acids in plasma and milk in Karen women were excellent at birth and in the postpartum period. The degree of deficiencies in these vitamins and the concentration of essential fatty acids in cord blood and maternal breast-milk did not correlate significantly with visual impairment in the infants. DVM might be caused by nutritional deficiency or toxic effects during critical periods of gestation that lead to delayed cortical myelination or structural defects which impinge on parietal cortex function.

McGready R, Keo NK, Villegas L, White NJ, Looareesuwan S, Nosten F. 2003. Artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil rescue treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy: a preliminary report. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 97 (5), pp. 592-594. | Show Abstract | Read more

Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to malaria infections. Multidrug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum seriously compromises treatment in some endemic areas. Between April 1999 and October 2001, we treated and prospectively followed 27 Karen pregnant women with multiple recrudescent P. falciparum infections who were resistant to all other antimalarials with a triple combination of artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil. The treatment was well tolerated and we found no evidence of toxicity for the mothers and the fetus. All but 1 woman were cured (cure rate 96%, 95% CI 89-100). The triple combination of artesunate (4 mg/kg/d), atovaquone (20 mg/kg/d), and proguanil (8 mg/kg/d) may provide a much needed, albeit expensive, 3-d rescue treatment for pregnant women exposed to multidrug- resistant P. falciparum malaria.

Nosten F, McGready R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2003. Editorial: Maternal malaria: time for action. Trop Med Int Health, 8 (6), pp. 485-487. | Read more

Nacher M, McGready R, Stepniewska K, Cho T, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2003. Haematinic treatment of anaemia increases the risk of Plasmodium vivax malaria in pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 97 (3), pp. 273-276. | Show Abstract | Read more

Nutritional deficiency and malaria are 2 major causes of anaemia during pregnancy in tropical areas. The relationship between anaemia, its treatment with iron and folate, and malaria was studied in a prospective cohort of 2112 pregnant Karen women on the north-western border of Thailand between 1993 and 1997. The development of Plasmodium vivax malaria was associated with a past mean haematocrit > 30% (hazard ratio = 1.5, 95% CI 1.2-2, P = 0.001) and recent (< or = 30 d) iron and folate supplementation (hazard ratio = 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.6, P = 0.01). There were no associations with P. falciparum infections. Plasmodium vivax has a predilection for young erythrocytes, and these results suggest that pregnant women with larger numbers of circulating young red cells are at greater risk of developing P. vivax malaria. In P. vivax-endemic areas, systematic iron and folate supplementation confers both benefit and risk in pregnancy.

McGready R. 2003. A memorable patient: How a refugee community deals with adoption BMJ, 326 (7394), pp. 873-873. | Read more

Nosten F, McGready R. 2003. Burden of malaria during pregnancy in areas of stable and unstable transmission in Ethiopia during a nonepidemic year. J Infect Dis, 188 (8), pp. 1259-1261. | Read more

van Vugt M, Leonardi E, Phaipun L, Slight T, Thway KL, McGready R, Brockman A, Villegas L, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2002. Treatment of uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria with artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil. Clin Infect Dis, 35 (12), pp. 1498-1504. | Show Abstract | Read more

In an open-label trial carried out on the northwest border of Thailand, 1596 patients with uncomplicated multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria were randomly assigned to receive atovaquone-proguanil, atovaquone-proguanil-artesunate, or artesunate-mefloquine and were followed up for 42 days. All 3 regimens were highly effective and well tolerated. Fever duration and parasite clearance times were significantly shorter among patients who received artesunate (P<.001). Polymerase chain reaction genotyping confirmed that recrudescence occurred in 13 patients who received artesunate-mefloquine (2.4%), 5 who received atovaquone-proguanil-artesunate (0.9%), and 15 who received atovaquone-proguanil (2.8%). Adding artesunate to atovaquone-proguanil reduced the risk of failure 3-fold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-8.2) and subsequent gametocyte carriage 21-fold (95% CI, 14-30). Gastrointestinal complaints in the first 48 h after initiation of treatment were more common among artesunate recipients, but after day 2, dizziness, sleep disturbance, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia were more common among mefloquine recipients (P< or =.014). Artesunate-atovaquone-proguanil is a highly effective and well-tolerated treatment for multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria.

Haataja L, McGready R, Arunjerdja R, Simpson JA, Mercuri E, Nosten F, Dubowitz L. 2002. A new approach for neurological evaluation of infants in resource-poor settings. Ann Trop Paediatr, 22 (4), pp. 355-368. | Show Abstract | Read more

Research assessing the neurological development of infants in developing countries is scanty as no suitable standardised tests are available for field-use in constrained circumstances. We describe the development and application of two simple assessments. Firstly, we aimed to develop a test suitable for assessing acute neurological disturbances caused by such diverse effects as infections, drugs or toxins. This test (Shoklo Neurological Test) is aimed at infants between 9 and 36 months. The second test (Shoklo Developmental Test) is aimed not only to follow the evolution of the signs tested initially in the acute phase but also to evaluate later neurodevelopmental sequelae which might be caused by the same events. The latter test is suitable for infants aged from 3 to 12 months. Both tests can be performed easily in non-optimal conditions. The examinations were tested in a cohort of infants from a Karen refugee camp and administered in a rural setting by health workers, after appropriate training. In order to validate the tests we also applied them to a cohort of London infants. The Griffiths Developmental Scales were applied in the same infants and both the Shoklo Neurological and the Shoklo Developmental Tests showed good correlation with this standardised neurodevelopmental assessment.

McGready R, Brockman A, Cho T, Levesque MA, Tkachuk AN, Meshnick SR, Nosten F. 2002. Haemozoin as a marker of placental parasitization. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 96 (6), pp. 644-646. | Show Abstract | Read more

Both Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum malaria can cause the delivery of low birthweight babies. In this report, we have quantitated haemozoin levels in placentas from women living on the Thai-Burmese border in a region of low transmission for both P. falciparum and P. vivax malaria from June 1995 to January 2000. P. falciparum malaria infections during pregnancy lead to the accumulation of haemozoin (malaria pigment) in the placenta, especially in infections near term and in primigravid pregnancies. Haemozoin concentration was not associated with adverse birth outcomes. Women with P. vivax infections during pregnancy do not have measurable levels of placental haemozoin suggesting that P. vivax-infected erythrocytes do not accumulate in the placenta as much as P. falciparum-infected ones.

Chotivanich K, Udomsangpetch R, McGready R, Proux S, Newton P, Pukrittayakamee S, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2002. Central role of the spleen in malaria parasite clearance. J Infect Dis, 185 (10), pp. 1538-1541. | Show Abstract | Read more

In acute malaria, red blood cells (RBCs) that have been parasitized, but no longer contain a malaria parasite, are found in the circulation (ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen [RESA]-RBCs). These are thought to arise by splenic removal of dead or damaged intraerythrocytic parasites and return of the intact RBCs to the circulation. In a study of 5 patients with acute falciparum malaria who had previously undergone splenectomy, it was found that none of these 5 patients had any circulating RESA-RBCs, in contrast to the uniform finding of RESA-RBCs in all patients with acute malaria and intact spleens. Parasite clearance after artesunate treatment was markedly prolonged, although the parasites appeared to be dead and could not be cultured ex vivo. These observations confirm the central role of the spleen in the clearance of parasitized RBCs after antimalarial treatment with an artemisinin derivative. Current criteria for high-grade antimalarial drug resistance that are based on changes in parasitemia are not appropriate for asplenic patients.

McGready R, Thwai KL, Cho T, Samuel, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2002. The effects of quinine and chloroquine antimalarial treatments in the first trimester of pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 96 (2), pp. 180-184. | Show Abstract | Read more

Quinine (n = 246) was used to treat uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum and chloroquine (n = 130) was used to treat P. vivax, in a total of 376 episodes of malaria in the first trimester of pregnancy, in 300 Karen women (Thailand, 1995-2000). Parasites were still present on day 6 or 7 in 4.7% (11/234) of episodes treated with quinine. The overall 28 day parasite reappearance rate following quinine was 28.7% (60/209) for primary treatments and 44% (11/25) for re-treatments. Quinine treatment resulted in a high rate of gametocyte carriage: person-gametocyte-weeks = 42.5 (95% CI 27.8-62.1) per 1000 woman-weeks. For P. vivax, the reappearance rate for all episodes by day 28 was 4.5% (5/111). Significantly more women complained of tinnitus following quinine treatment compared to on admission: 64.5% (78/121) vs 31.6% (59/187), P < 0.001. Using survival analysis, the community rate of spontaneous abortion in women who never had malaria in pregnancy, 17.8% (16.5-19.0), did not differ significantly from rates in women treated with quinine: 22.9% (95% CI 15.5-30.3), or chloroquine: 18.3% (95% CI 9.3-27.3), P = 0.42. Pregnancies exposed to quinine or chloroquine and carried to term did not have increased rates of congenital abnormality, stillbirth or low birthweight. These results suggest that therapeutic doses of quinine and chloroquine are safe to use in the first trimester of pregnancy.

McGready R, Cho T, Keo NK, Thwai KL, Villegas L, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2001. Artemisinin antimalarials in pregnancy: a prospective treatment study of 539 episodes of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum. Clin Infect Dis, 33 (12), pp. 2009-2016. | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum compromises the treatment of malaria, especially during pregnancy, where the choice of antimalarials is already limited. Artesunate (n=528) or artemether (n=11) was used to treat 539 episodes of acute P. falciparum malaria in 461 pregnant women, including 44 first-trimester episodes. Most patients (310 [57.5%]) received re-treatments after earlier treatment with quinine or mefloquine. By use of survival analysis, the cumulative artemisinin failure rate for primary infections was 6.6% (95% confidence interval, 1.0-12.3), compared with the re-treatment failure rate of 21.7% (95% confidence interval, 15.4-28.0; P=.004). The artemisinins were well tolerated with no evidence of adverse effects. Birth outcomes did not differ significantly to community rates for abortion, stillbirth, congenital abnormality, and mean gestation at delivery. These results are reassuring, but further information about the safety of these valuable antimalarials in pregnancy is needed.

McGready R, Simpson JA, Cho T, Dubowitz L, Changbumrung S, Böhm V, Munger RG, Sauberlich HE, White NJ, Nosten F. 2001. Postpartum thiamine deficiency in a Karen displaced population. Am J Clin Nutr, 74 (6), pp. 808-813. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Before its recognition, infantile beriberi was the leading cause of infant death in camps for displaced persons of the Karen ethnic minority on Thailand's western border. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to document thiamine status in the peripartum period to examine the current supplementation program and the correlation between the clinical manifestations of thiamine deficiency and a biochemical measure of thiamine status. DESIGN: Women were enrolled prospectively at 30 wk of gestation and were followed up weekly until delivery and at 3 mo postpartum. Thiamine supplementation during pregnancy was based on patient symptoms. RESULTS: At 3 mo postpartum, thiamine deficiency reflected by an erythrocyte transketolase activity (ETKA) > or = 1.20% was found in 57.7% (15/26) of mothers, 26.9% (7/26) of whom had severe deficiency (ETKA > 1.25%). No significant associations between ETKA and putative maternal symptoms or use of thiamine supplements were found. CONCLUSIONS: Biochemical postpartum thiamine deficiency is still common in Karen refugee women. This situation may be improved by educating lactating women to reduce their consumption of thiaminase-containing foods and by implementing an effective thiamine supplementation program.

McGready R, Cho T, Samuel, Villegas L, Brockman A, van Vugt M, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 2001. Randomized comparison of quinine-clindamycin versus artesunate in the treatment of falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 95 (6), pp. 651-656. | Show Abstract | Read more

In areas where multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum (MDR-Pf) is prevalent, only quinine is known to be safe and effective in pregnant women. On the western border of Thailand, 7 days of supervised quinine (30 mg/kg daily) cures two-thirds of P. falciparum-infected women in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. Artesunate is effective against MDR-Pf and the limited data on its use in pregnancy suggest it is safe. An open randomized comparison of supervised quinine (10 mg salt/kg every 8 h) in combination with clindamycin (5 mg/kg every 8 h) for 7 days (QC7) versus artesunate 2 mg/kg per day for 7 days (A7) was conducted in 1997-2000 in 129 Karen women with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria in the 2nd or 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. There was no difference in the day-42 cure rates between the QC7 (n = 65) and A7 (n = 64) regimens with an efficacy of 100% in both, confirmed by parasite genotyping. The A7 regimen was also associated with less gametocyte carriage; the average person-gametocyte-weeks for A7 was 3 (95% CI 0-19) and for QC7 was 39 (95% CI 21-66) per 1000 person-weeks, respectively (P < 0.01). There was no difference in gastrointestinal symptoms between the groups but there was significantly more tinnitus in the QC7 group compared to the A7 group (44.9% vs 8.9%; RR 5.1; 95% CI 1.9-13.5; P < 0.001). The favourable results with quinine-clindamycin mean that there is a useful back-up treatment for women with falciparum malaria who experience quinine and artesunate failures in pregnancy. Adherence to the 7-day regimen and cost (US$18.50 per treatment) are likely to be the main obstacles to this regimen.

McGready R, Hamilton KA, Simpson JA, Cho T, Luxemburger C, Edwards R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F, Lindsay SW. 2001. Safety of the insect repellent N,N-diethyl-M-toluamide (DEET) in pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 65 (4), pp. 285-289. | Show Abstract | Read more

The safety of daily application of N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) (1.7 g of DEET/day) in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy was assessed as part of a double-blind, randomized, therapeutic trial of insect repellents for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy (n = 897). No adverse neurologic, gastrointestinal, or dermatologic effects were observed for women who applied a median total dose of 214.2 g of DEET per pregnancy (range = 0-345.1 g). DEET crossed the placenta and was detected in 8% (95% confidence interval = 2.6-18.2) of cord blood samples from a randomly selected subgroup of DEET users (n = 50). No adverse effects on survival, growth, or development at birth, or at one year, were found. This is the first study to document the safety of DEET applied regularly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The results suggest that the risk of DEET accumulating in the fetus is low and that DEET is safe to use in later pregnancy.

Luxemburger C, McGready R, Kham A, Morison L, Cho T, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ, Nosten F. 2001. Effects of malaria during pregnancy on infant mortality in an area of low malaria transmission. Am J Epidemiol, 154 (5), pp. 459-465. | Show Abstract | Read more

Malaria during pregnancy reduces birth weight, and low birth weight is a major determinant of infant mortality. The authors estimated the impact of malaria during pregnancy on infant mortality in a Karen population living in Thailand. Between 1993 and 1996, a cohort of 1,495 mothers and their infants was followed weekly from admission of the mother to antenatal clinics until the first birthday of the infant. Both falciparum malaria and vivax malaria during pregnancy were associated with low birth weight but did not shorten gestation. Febrile illness in the week before delivery was associated with premature birth. Preterm and full-term low birth weight and fever in the week before delivery were associated with neonatal mortality. Maternal fevers close to term were also associated with the deaths of infants aged between 1 and 3 months, whereas no risk factors could be identified for deaths that occurred later in infancy. Thus, malaria during pregnancy increased neonatal mortality by lowering birth weight, whereas fever in the week before birth had a further independent effect in addition to inducing premature birth. The prevention of malaria in pregnancy and, thus, of malaria-attributable low birth weight should increase the survival of young babies.

McGready R, Simpson JA, Htway M, White NJ, Nosten F, Lindsay SW. 2001. A double-blind randomized therapeutic trial of insect repellents for the prevention of malaria in pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 95 (2), pp. 137-138. | Read more

McGready R, Simpson J, Panyavudhikrai S, Loo S, Mercuri E, Haataja L, Kolatat T, Nosten F, Dubowitz L. 2000. Neonatal neurological testing in resource-poor settings. Ann Trop Paediatr, 20 (4), pp. 323-336. | Show Abstract | Read more

The aim of the study was to design and test a neurological examination for newborns that could be performed reliably by paramedical staff in resource-poor settings. The examination was adapted from a method established by Dubowitz et al., the latest version of which includes an optimality score. The final items in the test were chosen because they were culturally acceptable, could be elicited according to strict but easily comprehensible instructions and because the expected responses could be scored by the descriptions given or by diagrams in the proforma. The shortened examination was easily taught to paramedical staff who achieved a high degree of inter-observer reliability. This shortened version of the examination was piloted by comparing newborns from a Karen refugee camp on the western border of Thailand and from a large maternity hospital in Bangkok with a standardized cohort of newborns in London. The modified shortened version of the test was sufficiently sensitive to identify a number of differences between the cohorts, notably the poor vision performance and markedly reduced tone of the Karen newborns. In conclusion, the test can be used very reliably by paramedical staff and is a useful, simple and portable tool for the neurological assessment of newborn babies where resources are limited.

McGready R, Brockman A, Cho T, Cho D, van Vugt M, Luxemburger C, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ, Nosten F. 2000. Randomized comparison of mefloquine-artesunate versus quinine in the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 94 (6), pp. 689-693. | Show Abstract | Read more

Since no effective malaria prevention measures have been identified for pregnant women living on the western border of Thailand, prompt diagnosis and efficient treatment are paramount, although drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum has narrowed the treatment options. An open randomized comparison of supervised quinine (10 mg salt/kg every 8 h) for 7 days (Q7) versus mefloquine 25 mg base/kg (total dose) plus artesunate 4 mg/kg per day for 3 days (MAS3) was conducted in 1995-97 in 108 Karen women with acute uncomplicated falciparum malaria in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. The MAS3 regimen was more effective than the Q7 regimen: day 63 cure rates were 98.2% (95% CI 94.7-100) (n = 65) for MAS3 and 67.0% (95% CI 43x3-90x8) (n = 41) for Q7, P = 0x001. The MAS3 regimen was also associated with less gametocyte carriage; the average person-gametocyte-weeks for MAS3 was 2.3 (95% CI 0-11) and for Q7 was 46x9 (95% CI 26-78) per 1000 person-weeks, respectively (P < 0.001). MAS3 was significantly better tolerated. These evident advantages must be balanced against a possible increased risk of stillbirth with the use of mefloquine in pregnancy. Further randomized studies assessing the safety and efficacy of other artemisinin-containing combination regimens in pregnancy are needed urgently.

van Vugt M, Looareesuwan S, Wilairatana P, McGready R, Villegas L, Gathmann I, Mull R, Brockman A, White NJ, Nosten F. 2000. Artemether-lumefantrine for the treatment of multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 94 (5), pp. 545-548. | Show Abstract | Read more

The efficacy and safety of the 6-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine were assessed in an open randomized trial in children and adults presenting with acute, uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Thailand between November 1997 and March 1998. 200 patients were enrolled in 2 centres: 150 received artemether-lumefantrine (i.e., a median total dose of 9.6 mg/kg [interquartile range 8.7-10.7] and 57.9 mg/kg of lumefantrine [52.4-64.0]) and 50 the standard combination of artesunate (12 mg/kg over 3 d) and mefloquine (25 mg/kg). All patients had rapid initial clinical and parasitological responses. The 28 d cure rates were high: 97.7% (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 93.5-99.5%) for artemether-lumefantrine and 100% (95% CI 92.5-100%) for artesunate-mefloquine. The 6-dose regimen of artemether-lumefantrine was better tolerated than, and as effective as, artesunate-mefloquine, the current standard treatment in this area of multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria.

McGready R, Paw E, Nosten F. 2000. Menorrhagia caused by dengue fever. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 40 (3), pp. 354-355. | Read more

Nosten F, van Vugt M, Price R, Luxemburger C, Thway KL, Brockman A, McGready R, ter Kuile F, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 2000. Effects of artesunate-mefloquine combination on incidence of Plasmodium falciparum malaria and mefloquine resistance in western Thailand: a prospective study. Lancet, 356 (9226), pp. 297-302. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Worsening drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a major threat to health in tropical countries. We did a prospective study of malaria incidence and treatment in an area of highly multidrug-resistant P. falciparum malaria. METHODS: We assessed incidence of P. falciparum malaria and the in-vivo responses to mefloquine treatment over 13 years in two large camps for displaced Karen people on the northwest border of Thailand. During this time, the standard mefloquine dose was first increased, and then combined artesunate and mefloquine was introduced as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. FINDINGS: Early detection and treatment controlled P. falciparum malaria initially while mefloquine was effective (cure rate with mefloquine [15 mg/kg] and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine in 1985, 98% [95% CI 97-100]), but as mefloquine resistance developed, the cure rate fell (71% [67-77] in 1990). A similar pattern was seen for high-dose (25 mg/kg) mefloquine monotherapy from 1990-94. Since the general deployment of the artesunate-mefloquine combination in 1994, the cure rate increased again to almost 100% from 1998 onwards, and there has been a sustained decline in the incidence of P. falciparum malaria in the study area. In-vitro susceptibility of P. falciparum to mefloquine has improved significantly (p=0.003). INTERPRETATION: In this area of low malaria transmission, early diagnosis and treatment with combined artesunate and mefloquine has reduced the incidence of P. falciparum malaria and halted the progression of mefloquine resistance. We recommend that antimalarial drugs should be combined with artemisinin or a derivative to protect them against resistance.

Nosten F, McGready R, Simpson JA, Thwai KL, Balkan S, Cho T, Hkirijaroen L, Looareesuwan S, White NJ. 1999. Effects of Plasmodium vivax malaria in pregnancy. Lancet, 354 (9178), pp. 546-549. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax is more common than P. falciparum as a cause of malaria in many parts of the tropics outside Africa. P. falciparum infection has harmful effects in pregnancy, but the effects of P. vivax have not been characterised. We investigated the effects of P. vivax infection during pregnancy. METHODS: Since 1986, pregnant Karen women living in camps for displaced people on the western border of Thailand have been encouraged to attend antenatal clinics. Karen women were screened for malaria and anaemia at each week of pregnancy until delivery, and pregnancy outcome recorded. We compared the effects of P. vivax infection on anaemia and pregnancy outcome with those of P. falciparum and no malaria infection in the first pregnancy recorded at the antenatal clinics. FINDINGS: There were 634 first episodes of pure P. vivax malaria in 9956 women. P. vivax malaria was more common in primigravidae than in multigravidae and was associated with mild anaemia and an increased risk of low birthweight (odds ratio 1.64 [95% CI 1.29-2.08], p<0.001). The birthweight was a mean of 107 g (95% CI 61-154) lower in women with P. vivax infection than in uninfected women. By contrast with P. falciparum malaria, the decrease in birthweight was greater in multigravidae. P. vivax malaria was not associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, or with a shortened duration of pregnancy. INTERPRETATION: P. vivax malaria during pregnancy is associated with maternal anaemia and low birthweight. The effects of P. vivax infection are less striking than those of P. falciparum infection, but antimalarial prophylaxis against P. vivax in pregnancy may be justified.

Luxemburger C, van Vugt M, Jonathan S, McGready R, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 1999. Treatment of vivax malaria on the western border of Thailand. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 93 (4), pp. 433-438. | Show Abstract | Read more

The efficacy of chloroquine (25 mg base/kg over 3 days) in Plasmodium vivax malaria was evaluated in 1995/96 in 342 patients living in an endemic area on the western border of Thailand. Clearance of fever and parasites was obtained within 2 days in > 95% of the patients, and all were aparasitaemic by day 4. Reappearance of P. vivax occurred in 1 patient on day 21 and in 8 by day 28, giving a 28-day cure rate of 97% [95% confidence interval (CI) 95-99%]. By day 63, the relapse/re-infection rate was 63% (95% CI 57-69%). Most reappearances of parasitaemia (85%; 121/143) were symptomatic. These patients were retreated either with chloroquine alone (n = 70) or with chloroquine and primaquine (0.25 mg/kg daily for 14 days) (n = 43). Only 1 patient (in the chloroquine-only group) had prolonged parasite clearance (D8) and he developed recurrent P. vivax by day 21 suggesting possible recrudescence. The addition of primaquine to chloroquine reduced the risk of having a third vivax episode within 2 months by 96% (95% CI 83-99%). This resulted in a significantly higher haematocrit at day 42 despite a greater decrease in haematocrit during the first week of treatment with chloroquine-primaquine (P = 0.04). Chloroquine remains highly effective on the western border of Thailand and the use of strictly supervised primaquine effectively prevents relapse. The introduction of primaquine on a large scale in an endemic area still requires a long-term risk-benefit assessment which must take into account potential toxicity, low compliance and reductions in the incidence and severity of P. falciparum infections by co-existent P. vivax.

Price R, van Vugt M, Phaipun L, Luxemburger C, Simpson J, McGready R, ter Kuile F, Kham A, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ, Nosten F. 1999. Adverse effects in patients with acute falciparum malaria treated with artemisinin derivatives. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 60 (4), pp. 547-555. | Show Abstract | Read more

In prospective studies of acute uncomplicated, multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria on the western border of Thailand, the oral artemisinin derivatives were used alone in the treatment of 836 patients (artesunate 630, artemether 206), were combined with mefloquine (15-25 mg base/kg) in 2,826 patients, and mefloquine alone was used in 1,303 patients. The combined regimens of mefloquine plus an artemisinin derivative were associated with more side effects than those with an artemisinin derivative alone; acute nausea (31% versus 16%), vomiting (24% versus 11%), anorexia (51% versus 34%), and dizziness (47% versus 15%) (P < 0.001). Oral artesunate and artemether alone were very well tolerated. There was no difference in the incidence of possible adverse effects between the two drugs, and no evidence that either derivative caused allergic reactions, neurologic or psychiatric reactions, or cardiovascular or dermatologic toxicity. Blackwater fever occurred in three patients treated with mefloquine plus artesunate regimens. Oral artesunate and artemether are safe and well tolerated antimalarial drugs.

McGready R. 1999. Meet my uncle. Lancet, 353 (9150), pp. 414. | Read more

McGready R, Simpson JA, White NJ, Nosten F, Lindsay SW. 1998. Smoking cheroots reduces birthweight. Lancet, 352 (9139), pp. 1521-1522. | Read more

McGready R, Cho T, Hkirijaroen L, Simpson J, Chongsuphajaisiddhi T, White NJ, Nosten F. 1998. Quinine and mefloquine in the treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Ann Trop Med Parasitol, 92 (6), pp. 643-653. | Show Abstract | Read more

Between 1991 and 1996, 372 pregnant women with uncomplicated, multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria, living on the western border of Thailand, were treated with either mefloquine (N = 194), quinine (N = 93) or both drugs (N = 85). Antimalarial treatment was generally well tolerated; the most common side-effects were dizziness (42%) and tinnitus (35%) following quinine, and anorexia (23%) and dizziness (36%) following mefloquine. In the patients treated for primary infections with melfloquine, 6% failed to clear their parasitaemia by day 7 and 28% failed by day 42. The corresponding figures for quinine were 4% and 23%, respectively. The failure rates in the 117 women treated for recrudescent infections were higher, the increase being significant for quinine (38%; P = 0.03) but not for mefloquine (37%). The percentage of pregnant women who had patent gametocytaemia on presentation ranged from 4%-19%. Over 50% of the patients were anaemic (haematocrit < 30%) on presentation and 52% of those not anaemic on enrolment developed anaemia during follow-up. Mefloquine and quinine, the only antimalarials generally available for the treatment of highly drug-resistant P. falciparum in pregnancy, give unsatisfactory treatment responses when used as single agents. New, safe and effective regimens are needed for the treatment of pregnant women with multidrug-resistant falciparum malaria.

McGready R, Cho T, Cho JJ, Simpson JA, Luxemburger C, Dubowitz L, Looareesuwan S, White NJ, Nosten F. 1998. Artemisinin derivatives in the treatment of falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, 92 (4), pp. 430-433. | Show Abstract | Read more

An artemisinin derivative (artesunate or artemether) was used for the treatment of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 83 Karen pregnant women in Thailand; 55 women were treated for recrudescent infection following quinine or mefloquine, 12 for uncomplicated hyperparasitaemic episodes, and 16 had not declared their pregnancy when treated. The women were followed weekly until delivery. Artesunate and artemether were well tolerated and there was no drug-related adverse effect. Recrudescence within 42 d occurred in 16% of the treated episodes. Overall 73 pregnancies (88%) resulted in live births, 3 (4%) in abortions and 2 (3%) in still births, and 5 women were lost to follow-up before delivery. There was no congenital abnormality in any of the newborn children, and the 46 children followed for more than one year all developed normally.

McGready R, Nosten F. 1995. Falciparum malaria in pregnancy. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol, 35 (4), pp. 468-469.

McGready R, Nosten F. 1995. To the editor [1] Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 35 (4), pp. 468-469.

Lowe M, McGready R. 1994. Nosocomial hypothermia in the tropics. Med J Aust, 160 (3), pp. 164-165.

McLean ARD, Boel ME, McGready R, Ataide R, Drew D, Tsuboi T, Beeson JG, Nosten F, Simpson JA, Fowkes FJI. 2016. Antibody responses to Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax blood-stage and sporozoite antigens in the postpartum period. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 32159. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy a variety of immunological changes occur to accommodate the fetus. It is unknown whether these changes continue to affect humoral immunity postpartum or how quickly they resolve. IgG levels were measured to P. falciparum and P. vivax antigens in 201 postpartum and 201 controls over 12 weeks. Linear mixed-effects models assessed antibody maintenance over time and the effect of microscopically confirmed Plasmodium spp. infection on antibody levels, and whether this was different in postpartum women compared with control women. Postpartum women had reduced Plasmodium spp. antibody levels compared to controls at baseline. Over 12 weeks, mean antibody levels in postpartum women increased to levels observed in control women. Microscopically confirmed P. falciparum and P. vivax infections during follow-up were associated with an increase in species-specific antibodies with similar magnitudes of boosting observed in postpartum and control women. Antibodies specific for pregnancy-associated, VAR2CSA-expressing parasites did not rapidly decline postpartum and did not boost in response to infection in either postpartum or control women. After pregnancy, levels of malaria-specific antibodies were reduced, but recovered to levels seen in control women. There was no evidence of an impaired ability to mount a boosting response in postpartum women.

White AL, Min TH, Gross MM, Kajeechiwa L, Thwin MM, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Than HH, Zin TW, Rijken MJ, Hoogenboom G, McGready R. 2016. Accelerated Training of Skilled Birth Attendants in a Marginalized Population on the Thai-Myanmar Border: A Multiple Methods Program Evaluation. PLoS One, 11 (10), pp. e0164363. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: To evaluate a skilled birth attendant (SBA) training program in a neglected population on the Thai-Myanmar border, we used multiple methods to show that refugee and migrant health workers can be given effective training in their own environment to become SBAs and teachers of SBAs. The loss of SBAs through resettlement to third countries necessitated urgent training of available workers to meet local needs. METHODS AND FINDINGS: All results were obtained from student records of theory grades and clinical log books. Qualitative evaluation of both the SBA and teacher programs was obtained using semi-structured interviews with supervisors and teachers. We also reviewed perinatal indicators over an eight-year period, starting prior to the first training program until after the graduation of the fourth cohort of SBAs. RESULTS: Four SBA training programs scheduled between 2009 and 2015 resulted in 79/88 (90%) of students successfully completing a training program of 250 theory hours and 625 supervised clinical hours. All 79 students were able to: achieve pass grades on theory examination (median 80%, range [70-89]); obtain the required clinical experience within twelve months; achieve clinical competence to provide safe care during childbirth. In 2010-2011, five experienced SBAs completed a train-the-trainer (TOT) program and went on to facilitate further training programs. Perinatal indicators within Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), such as place of birth, maternal and newborn outcomes, showed no significant differences before and after introduction of training or following graduate deployment in the local maternity units. Confidence, competence and teamwork emerged from qualitative evaluation by senior SBAs working with and supervising students in the clinics. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that in resource-limited settings or in marginalized populations, it is possible to accelerate training of skilled birth attendants to provide safe maternity care. Education needs to be tailored to local needs to ensure evidence-based care of women and their families.

Salisbury P, Hall L, Kulkus S, Paw MK, Tun NW, Min AM, Chotivanich K, Srikanok S, Ontuwong P, Sirinonthachai S et al. 2016. Family planning knowledge, attitudes and practices in refugee and migrant pregnant and post-partum women on the Thailand-Myanmar border - a mixed methods study. Reprod Health, 13 (1), pp. 94. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Lack of data in marginalized populations on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) hampers efforts to improve modern contraceptive practice. A mixed methods study to better understand family planning KAP amongst refugee and migrant women on the Thailand-Myanmar border was conducted as part of an ongoing effort to improve reproductive health, particularly maternal mortality, through Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU) antenatal and birthing services. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs) in currently pregnant women; and in-depth interviews (IDIs) in selected post-partum women with three children or more; were conducted. Quantitative data were described with medians and proportions and compared using standard statistical tests. Risk factors associated with high parity (>3) were identified using logistic regression analysis. Qualitative data were coded and grouped and discussed using identified themes. RESULTS: In January-March 2015, 978 women participated in cross-sectional studies, 120 in FGD and 21 in IDI. Major positive findings were: > 90 % of women knew about contraceptives for birth spacing, >60 % of women in the FGD and IDI reported use of family planning (FP) in the past and nearly all women knew where they could obtain FP supplies. Major gaps identified included: low uptake of long acting contraception (LAC), lack of awareness of emergency contraception (>90 % of women), unreliable estimates of when child bearing years end, and misconceptions surrounding female sterilization. Three was identified as the ideal number of children in the cross-sectional survey but less than half of the women with this parity or higher in the IDI actually adopted LAC leaving them at risk for unintended pregnancy. Discussing basic female anatomy using a simple diagram was well received in FGD and IDIs. LAC uptake has increased particularly the IUD from 2013-2015. CONCLUSION: Definitive contextual issues were identified during this study and a significant range of action points have been implemented in FP services at SMRU as a result, particularly in regard to the IUD. The importance of the role and attitudes of husbands were acknowledged by women and studies to investigate male perspectives in future may enhance FP practice in this area.

Tarning J. 2016. Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy. N Engl J Med, 374 (10), pp. 981-982. | Read more

Charnaud SC, McGready R, Herten-Crabb A, Powell R, Guy A, Langer C, Richards JS, Gilson PR, Chotivanich K, Tsuboi T et al. 2016. Maternal-foetal transfer of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax antibodies in a low transmission setting. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 20859. | Show Abstract | Read more

During pregnancy immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies are transferred from mother to neonate across the placenta. Studies in high transmission areas have shown transfer of P. falciparum-specific IgG, but the extent and factors influencing maternal-foetal transfer in low transmission areas co-endemic for both P. falciparum and P. vivax are unknown. Pregnant women were screened weekly for Plasmodium infection. Mother-neonate paired serum samples at delivery were tested for IgG to antigens from P. falciparum, P. vivax and other infectious diseases. Antibodies to malarial and non-malarial antigens were highly correlated between maternal and neonatal samples (median [range] spearman ρ = 0.78 [0.57-0.93]), although Plasmodium spp. antibodies tended to be lower in neonates than mothers. Estimated gestational age at last P. falciparum infection, but not P. vivax infection, was positively associated with antibody levels in the neonate (P. falciparum merozoite, spearman ρ median [range] 0.42 [0.33-0.66], PfVAR2CSA 0.69; P. vivax ρ = 0.19 [0.09-0.3]). Maternal-foetal transfer of anti-malarial IgG to Plasmodium spp. antigens occurs in low transmission settings. P. vivax IgG acquisition is not associated with recent exposure unlike P. falciparum IgG, suggesting a difference in acquisition of antibodies. IgG transfer is greatest in the final weeks of pregnancy which has implications for the timing of future malaria vaccination strategies in pregnant women.

Stuetz W, Carrara VI, Mc Gready R, Lee SJ, Sriprawat K, Po B, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Grune T, Biesalski HK, Nosten FH. 2016. Impact of Food Rations and Supplements on Micronutrient Status by Trimester of Pregnancy: Cross-Sectional Studies in the Maela Refugee Camp in Thailand. Nutrients, 8 (2), pp. 66. | Show Abstract | Read more

Micronutrient fortified flour (MFF), supplementary food rations and micronutrient (MN) supplements may prevent deficiencies among pregnant women. Objectives of cross-sectional surveys in 2004 (n = 533) and 2006 (n = 515) were to assess the impact of new food rations (flour, oil) and supplements on MN status by trimester of pregnancy in the Maela refugee camp. Hemoglobin, iron status, zinc, retinol, β-carotene and tryptophan decreased, while α-/γ-tocopherol and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) increased from first to third trimester. In 2006, mean zinc and α-tocopherol for each trimester was significantly higher than in 2004. The weeks of supplemented thiamine and folic acid were positively correlated with thiamine diphosphate (TDP) and 5-MTHF, but not for ferrous sulfate as iron deficiency was observed in 38.5% of third-trimester women. Frequent consumption of fish paste and owning a garden or animal were associated with significantly higher iron status, retinol, β-carotene, and 5-MTHF. In conclusion, MFF and supplementary oil were most likely to explain improved zinc and α-tocopherol status, while thiamine and folate supplements ensured high TDP and 5-MTHF in late pregnancy. MN supplements, MN-rich staple food, small gardens, and programs to improve iron compliance are promising strategies to prevent MN deficiencies during pregnancy in vulnerable populations.

Parker DM, Carrara VI, Pukrittayakamee S, McGready R, Nosten FH. 2015. Malaria ecology along the Thailand–Myanmar border Malaria Journal, 14 (1), | Show Abstract | Read more

© 2015 Parker et al. Background: Malaria in Southeast Asia frequently clusters along international borders. For example, while most of Thailand is malaria free, the border region shared with Myanmar continues to have endemic malaria. This spatial pattern is the result of complex interactions between landscape, humans, mosquito vectors, and malaria parasites. An understanding of these complex ecological and socio-cultural interactions is important for designing and implementing malaria elimination efforts in the region. This article offers an ecological perspective on the malaria situation along the Thailand-Myanmar border. Discussion: This border region is long (2000 km), mountainous, and the environment ranges from thick forests to growing urban settlements and wet-rice fields. It is also a biologically diverse region. All five species of malaria known to naturally infect humans are present. At least three mosquito vector species complexes, with widely varying behavioural characteristics, exist in the area. The region is also a hub for ethnic diversity, being home to over ten different ethnolinguistic groups, several of which have been engaged in conflict with the Myanmar government now for over half a century. Given the biological and ethnic diversity, as well as the complex socio-political context, malaria control and elimination in the region is challenging. Conclusion: Despite these complexities, multipronged approaches including collaborations with multiple local organizations, quick access to diagnosis and treatment, prevention of mosquito bites, radical cure of parasites, and mass drug administration appear to be drastically decreasing Plasmodium falciparum infections. Such approaches remain crucial as the region moves toward elimination of P. falciparum and potentially Plasmodium vivax.

Chalmers L, Cross J, Chu CS, Phyo AP, Trip M, Ling C, Carrara V, Watthanaworawit W, Keereecharoen L, Hanboonkunupakarn B et al. 2015. The role of point-of-care tests in antibiotic stewardship for urinary tract infections in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Trop Med Int Health, 20 (10), pp. 1281-1289. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: Published literature from resource-limited settings is infrequent, although urinary tract infections (UTI) are a common cause of outpatient presentation and antibiotic use. Point-of-care test (POCT) interpretation relates to antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance. We aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of POCT and their role in UTI antibiotic stewardship. METHODS: One-year retrospective analysis in three clinics on the Thailand-Myanmar border of non-pregnant adults presenting with urinary symptoms. POCT (urine dipstick and microscopy) were compared to culture with significant growth classified as pure growth of a single organism >10(5)  CFU/ml. RESULTS: In 247 patients, 82.6% female, the most common symptoms were dysuria (81.2%), suprapubic pain (67.8%) and urinary frequency (53.7%). After excluding contaminated samples, UTI was diagnosed in 52.4% (97/185); 71.1% (69/97) had a significant growth on culture, and >80% of these were Escherichia coli (20.9% produced extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)). Positive urine dipstick (leucocyte esterase ≥1 and/or nitrate positive) compared against positive microscopy (white blood cell >10/HPF, bacteria ≥1/HPF, epithelial cells <5/HPF) had a higher sensitivity (99% vs. 57%) but a lower specificity (47% vs. 89%), respectively. Combined POCT resulted in the best sensitivity (98%) and specificity (81%). Nearly one in ten patients received an antimicrobial to which the organism was not fully sensitive. CONCLUSION: One rapid, cost-effective POCT was too inaccurate to be used alone by healthcare workers, impeding antibiotic stewardship in a high ESBL setting. Appropriate prescribing is improved with concurrent use and concordant results of urine dipstick and microscopy.

McGready R, Prakash JAJ, Benjamin SJ, Watthanaworawit W, Anantatat T, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Ling CL, Tan SO, Ashley EA, Pimanpanarak M et al. 2014. Pregnancy outcome in relation to treatment of murine typhus and scrub typhus infection: a fever cohort and a case series analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8 (11), pp. e3327. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of published reports on pregnancy outcome following scrub and murine typhus despite these infections being leading causes of undifferentiated fever in Asia. This study aimed to relate pregnancy outcome with treatment of typhus. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Data were analyzed from: i) pregnant women with a diagnosis of scrub and/or murine typhus from a fever cohort studies; ii) case series of published studies in PubMed using the search terms "scrub typhus" (ST), "murine typhus" (MT), "Orientia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia tsutsugamushi", "Rickettsia typhi", "rickettsiae", "typhus", or "rickettsiosis"; and "pregnancy", until February 2014 and iii) an unpublished case series. Fever clearance time (FCT) and pregnancy outcome (miscarriage and delivery) were compared to treatment. Poor neonatal outcome was a composite measure for pregnancies sustained to 28 weeks or more of gestation ending in stillbirth, preterm birth, or delivery of a growth restricted or low birth weight newborn. RESULTS: There were 26 women in the fever cohort. MT and ST were clinically indistinguishable apart from two ST patients with eschars. FCTs (median [range] hours) were 25 [16-42] for azithromycin (n=5), 34 [20-53] for antimalarials (n=5) and 92 [6-260] for other antibiotics/supportive therapy (n=16). There were 36.4% (8/22) with a poor neonatal outcome. In 18 years, 97 pregnancies were collated, 82 with known outcomes, including two maternal deaths. Proportions of miscarriage 17.3% (14/81) and poor neonatal outcomes 41.8% (28/67) were high, increasing with longer FCTs (p=0.050, linear trend). Use of azithromycin was not significantly associated with improved neonatal outcomes (p=0.610). CONCLUSION: The published ST and MT world literature amounts to less than 100 pregnancies due to under recognition and under diagnosis. Evidence supporting the most commonly used treatment, azithromycin, is weak. Collaborative, prospective clinical trials in pregnant women are urgently required to reduce the burden of adverse maternal and newborn outcomes and to determine the safety and efficacy of antimicrobial treatment.

Rijken MJ, De Livera AM, Lee SJ, Boel ME, Rungwilailaekhiri S, Wiladphaingern J, Paw MK, Pimanpanarak M, Pukrittayakamee S, Simpson JA et al. 2014. Quantifying low birth weight, preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age effects of malaria in pregnancy: a population cohort study. PLoS One, 9 (7), pp. e100247. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The association between malaria during pregnancy and low birth weight (LBW) is well described. This manuscript aims to quantify the relative contribution of malaria to small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants and preterm birth (PTB) in pregnancies accurately dated by ultrasound on the Thai-Myanmar border at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit. METHODS AND FINDINGS: From 2001 to 2010 in a population cohort of prospectively followed pregnancies, we analyzed all singleton newborns who were live born, normal, weighed in the first hour of life and with a gestational age (GA) between 28+0 and 41+6 weeks. Fractional polynomial regression was used to determine the mean birthweight and standard deviation as functions of GA. Risk differences and factors of LBW and SGA were studied across the range of GA for malaria and non-malaria pregnancies. From 10,264 newborns records, population centiles were created. Women were screened for malaria by microscopy a median of 22 [range 1-38] times and it was detected and treated in 12.6% (1,292) of pregnancies. Malaria was associated with LBW, PTB, and SGA compared to those without malaria. Nearly two-thirds of PTB were classified as LBW (68% (539/789)), most of which 83% (447/539) were not SGA. After GA 39 weeks, 5% (298/5,966) of non-LBW births were identified as SGA. Low body mass index, primigravida, hypertension, smoking and female sex of the newborn were also significantly and independently associated with LBW and SGA consistent with previous publications. CONCLUSIONS: Treated malaria in pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for LBW, PTB, and SGA, of which the latter are most important for infant survival. Using LBW as an endpoint without adjusting for GA incorrectly estimated the effects of malaria in pregnancy. Ultrasound should be used for dating pregnancies and birth weights should be expressed as a function (or adjusted for GA) of GA in future malaria in pregnancy studies.

Thanapongpichat S, McGready R, Luxemburger C, Day NPJ, White NJ, Nosten F, Snounou G, Imwong M. 2013. Microsatellite genotyping of Plasmodium vivax infections and their relapses in pregnant and non-pregnant patients on the Thai-Myanmar border. Malar J, 12 (1), pp. 275. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax infections in pregnancy are associated with low birth weight and anaemia. This parasites species is also characterised by relapses, erythrocytic infections initiated by the activation of the dormant liver stages, the hypnozoites, to mature. Genotyping of P. vivax using microsatellite markers has opened the way to comparative investigations of parasite populations. The aim of the study was to assess whether there were any differences between the parasites found in pregnant and non-pregnant patients, and/or between the admission infections and recurrent episodes during follow-up. METHODS: Blood samples were collected from 18 pregnant and 18 non-pregnant patients, who had at least two recurrent episodes during follow-up, that were recruited in two previous trials on the efficacy of chloroquine treatment of P. vivax infections on the Thai-Myanmar border. DNA was purified and the P. vivax populations genotyped with respect to eight polymorphic microsatellite markers. Analyses of the genetic diversity, multiplicity of infection (MOI), and a comparison of the genotypes in the samples from each patient were conducted. RESULTS: The P. vivax parasites present in the samples exhibited high genetic diversity (6 to 15 distinct allelic variants found for the 8 loci). Similar expected heterozygosity (He) values were obtained for isolates from pregnant (0.837) and non-pregnant patients (0.852). There were modest differences between the MOI values calculated for both admission and recurrence samples from the pregnant patients (2.00 and 2.05, respectively) and the equivalent samples from the non-pregnant patients (1.67 and 1.64, respectively). Furthermore, the mean number of distinct alleles enumerated in the admission samples from the pregnant (6.88) and non-pregnant (7.63) patients were significantly lower than that found in the corresponding recurrent episodes samples (9.25 and 9.63, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: The P. vivax populations circulating in inhabitants along the Thai-Myanmar border, an area of low malaria transmission, displayed high genetic diversity. A subtle increase in the multiplicity of P. vivax infections in pregnant patients suggests a higher susceptibility to infection. The higher allelic diversity in the relapse as compared to the admission samples in both patient groups is consistent with the hypothesis that a febrile episode promotes the activation of hypnozoites.

Boel ME, Rijken MJ, Leenstra T, Phyo AP, Pimanpanarak M, Keereecharoen NL, Proux S, Laochan N, Imwong M, Singhasivanon P et al. 2013. Malaria in the post-partum period; a prospective cohort study. PLoS One, 8 (3), pp. e57890. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown a prolonged or increased susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. A matched cohort study was conducted to evaluate prospectively the susceptibility to malaria of post-partum women in an area where P.falciparum and P.vivax are prevalent. METHODS: In an area of low seasonal malaria transmission on the Thai-Myanmar border pregnant women attending antenatal clinics were matched to a non-pregnant, non-post-partum control and followed up prospectively until 12 weeks after delivery. RESULTS: Post-partum women (n = 744) experienced significantly less P.falciparum episodes than controls (hazard ratio (HR) 0.39 (95%CI 0.21-0.72) p = 0.003) but significantly more P.vivax (HR 1.34 (1.05-1.72) p = 0.018). The reduced risk of falciparum malaria was accounted for by reduced exposure, whereas a history of P.vivax infection during pregnancy was a strong risk factor for P.vivax in post-partum women (HR 13.98 (9.13-21.41), p<0.001). After controlling for effect modification by history of P.vivax, post-partum women were not more susceptible to P.vivax than controls (HR: 0.33 (0.21-0.51), p<0.001). Genotyping of pre-and post-partum infections [Formula in text] showed that each post-partum P.falciparum was a newly acquired infection. CONCLUSIONS: In this area of low seasonal malaria transmission post-partum women were less likely to develop falciparum malaria but more likely to develop vivax malaria than controls. This was explained by reduced risk of exposure and increased risk of relapse, respectively. There was no evidence for altered susceptibility to malaria in the post-partum period. The treatment of vivax malaria during and immediately after pregnancy needs to be improved.

Fowkes FJI, McGready R, Cross NJ, Hommel M, Simpson JA, Elliott SR, Richards JS, Lackovic K, Viladpai-Nguen J, Narum D et al. 2012. New insights into acquisition, boosting, and longevity of immunity to malaria in pregnant women. J Infect Dis, 206 (10), pp. 1612-1621. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: How antimalarial antibodies are acquired and maintained during pregnancy and boosted after reinfection with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax is unknown. METHODS: A nested case-control study of 467 pregnant women (136 Plasmodium-infected cases and 331 uninfected control subjects) in northwestern Thailand was conducted. Antibody levels to P. falciparum and P. vivax merozoite antigens and the pregnancy-specific PfVAR2CSA antigen were determined at enrollment (median 10 weeks gestation) and throughout pregnancy until delivery. RESULTS: Antibodies to P. falciparum and P. vivax were highly variable over time, and maintenance of high levels of antimalarial antibodies involved highly dynamic responses resulting from intermittent exposure to infection. There was evidence of boosting with each successive infection for P. falciparum responses, suggesting the presence of immunological memory. However, the half-lives of Plasmodium antibody responses were relatively short, compared with measles (457 years), and much shorter for merozoite responses (0.8-7.6 years), compared with PfVAR2CSA responses (36-157 years). The longer half-life of antibodies to PfVAR2CSA suggests that antibodies acquired in one pregnancy may be maintained to protect subsequent pregnancies. CONCLUSIONS: These findings may have important practical implications for predicting the duration of vaccine-induced responses by candidate antigens and supports the development of malaria vaccines to protect pregnant women.

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