Okechukwu AA, Olateju K
Signs and symptoms of neonatal malaria does not dif fer much from those of neonatal sepsis, this has resulted in non judicial use of anti malaria drugs in newborns suspected of having sepsis because of the increasing reported cases of neonatal malaria i n our environment. The study was aimed at determining the prevalence of neonatal malaria amon g newborns admitted for suspected neonatal sepsis, and to compare their malaria parasitic dens ity with those of the apparently well neonate with a view of ascertaining whether the symptoms from symp tomatic newborn were truly as a result of malaria parasitaemia. Blood culture and blood smear (thin a nd thick) were taken and made from neonates suspected of having neonatal sepsis in the special care baby unit of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital from August 2007 to December 2009 (18 mont hs study period). Thick and thin blood smear were also taken from well neonates for comparative purposes. The smears were stained with Giemsa and examined by light microscopy for asexual stages of plasmodium, specie identification, and quantification. Of a total 266 neonates admitted fo r presumed sepsis, 150 were males and 116 females, (m:f ratio of 1.3:1), and among the 272 well neonat es recruited, 152 were male and 120 females, m:f ra tio of 1.3:1. Their mean age, body weight, and gestatio nal age were 5.1±5.7 days, 2.5±0.87 kg, 36.1±3.5 weeks for neonatal sepsis babies, and 6.7±4.3 days, 3.1±0.35 kg, and 36.7±2.8 weeks for the well neonates, p values >0.05. Malaria parasite was iden tified in 41.7% of babies with presumed sepsis, and in 12.5% of well babies, p value <0.05. There was h owever no statistical significant difference in the parasite density among the two groups, 84.7% Vs 88. 2% for those with low parasite count, 12.6% Vs 11.8% for moderate parasite count, and 3.0% Vs 0.0% for high parasite count for babies admitted for presume sepsis, and those from the well babies grou p, p values >0.05. Two deaths (1.8%) were recorded among babies with malaria parasitaemia, on e of whom had associated overwhelming sepsis, and the other with high parasite count. Neonatal ma laria is common in our environment. Greater number however had low parasite count and had remai ned asymptomatic. Screening for malaria parasite should be part of septic work up for babie s suspected of having neonatal sepsis, but treatmen t to be reserve to those with moderate to high malari a parasite count.
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