The prevalence and consequences of malaria among infants are not well characterized and may be underestimated. A better understanding of the risk for malaria in early infancy is critical for drug development and informed decision making. In a cross-sectional survey in Guinea, The Gambia, and Benin, countries with different malaria transmission intensities, the overall prevalence of malaria among infants <6 months of age was 11.8% (Guinea, 21.7%; The Gambia, 3.7%; and Benin, 10.2%). Seroprevalence ranged from 5.7% in The Gambia to 41.6% in Guinea. Mean parasite densities in infants were significantly lower than those in children 1–9 years of age in The Gambia (p<0.0001) and Benin (p = 0.0021). Malaria in infants was significantly associated with fever or recent history of fever (p = 0.007) and anemia (p = 0.001). Targeted preventive interventions, adequate drug formulations, and treatment guidelines are needed to address the sizeable prevalence of malaria among young infants in malaria-endemic countries.
View the full article on the CDC website.