Vulnerable victims

Vulnerable victims malaria is back again, and this time with a trans-generational implication. According to a recent report, first pregnancies undo the relative resistance against Plasmodium falciparum , the most serious form of malarial parasite. The resistance seems to improve with subsequent pregnancies. The distinct clinical entity is known as maternal malaria. The symptoms associated with this disease are premature delivery, intrauterine growth retardations, perinatal infant mortality, maternal anaemia, the infant being more prone to low birth weight and subsequent susceptibility to disease and death.

Till now, medical experts had blamed the immuno-compromised state of the expectant mother. But the fact that the disease gets less severe during subsequent pregnancies shakes this belief. Research work of Michal Fried and Patrick Duffy at the us Army Medical Research Unit and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, both in Kisumu, Kenya, has shown the occurrance of P falciparum infected red blood cells (rbc) in the placenta of pregnant women, even when the parasite counts were statistically low in blood circulation.

The researchers say that the infected rbc bind to a particular protein receptor

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