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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Neonatal malaria in Nigeria -a 2 year review

Iyabo T Runsewe-Abiodun*, Olusoga B Ogunfowora and Bolanle M Fetuga

Author Affiliations

Department of Paediatrics, Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, PMB 2001, Sagamu, Ogun State, South-west, Nigeria

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BMC Pediatrics 2006, 6:19  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-6-19

Published: 12 June 2006



In view of the fact that a significant proportion of neonates with malaria may be missed on our wards on the assumption that the disease condition is rare, this study aims at documenting the prevalence of malaria in neonates admitted into our neonatal ward. Specifically, we hope to describe its clinical features and outcome of this illness. Knowledge of these may ensure early diagnosis and institution of prompt management.


Methods Hospital records of all patients (two hundred and thirty) admitted into the Neonatal ward of Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu between 1st January 1998 and 31st December 1999 were reviewed. All neonates (fifty-seven) who had a positive blood smear for the malaria parasite were included in the study. Socio-demographic data as well as clinical correlates of each of the patients were reviewed. The Epi-Info 6 statistical software was used for data entry, validation and analysis. A frequency distribution was generated for categorical variables. To test for an association between categorical variables, the chi-square test was used. The level of significance was put at values less than 5%.


Prevalence of neonatal malaria in this study was 24.8% and 17.4% for congenital malaria.

While the mean duration of illness was 3.60 days, it varied from 5.14 days in those that died and and 3.55 in those that survived respectively. The duration of illness significantly affected the outcome (p value = 0.03). Fever alone was the clinical presentation in 44 (77.4%) of the patients. Maturity of the baby, sex and age did not significantly affect infestation. However, history of malaria/febrile illness within the 2 weeks preceding the delivery was present in 61.2% of the mothers. Maternal age, concurrent infection and duration of illness all significantly affected the outcome of illness. Forty-two (73.7%) of the babies were discharged home in satisfactory condition.


It was concluded that taking a blood smear to check for the presence of the malaria parasite should be included as part of routine workup for all neonates with fever or those whose mothers have history of fever two weeks prior to delivery. In addition, health education of pregnant mothers in the antenatal clinic should include early care-seeking for newborns.