Child growth and neurodevelopment after maternal antenatal antibiotic treatment

Karoliina Videman, Lotta Hallamaa, Otto Heimonen, Charles Mangani, Mari Luntamo, Kenneth Maleta, Per Ashorn, Ulla Ashorn

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    Objective To assess whether intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and azithromycin (AZI) in a malaria-endemic area leads to sustained gains in linear growth and development in their offspring.

    Design Follow-up study of a randomised trial.

    Setting Mangochi District in rural southern Malawi.

    Participants 1320 pregnant women and their offspring.

    Interventions IPTp monthly with SP and twice with AZI (AZI-SP group), monthly with SP but no AZI (monthly SP), or twice with SP (control). No intervention was given to children.

    Main outcome measures Cognitive performance using Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM) at 13 years of age; mean height and height-for-age Z-score (HAZ), cumulative incidence and prevalence of stunting (HAZ <−2); weight, body mass index, mid-upper-arm circumference and head circumference.

    Results At approximately 13 years of age, the mean CPM score was 14.3 (SD 3.8, range 6–29, maximum 36), with no differences between groups. Children in the AZI-SP group were on average 0.4 cm (95% CI −0.9 to 1.7, p=0.6) taller than those in the control group. For cumulative incidence of stunting, the HR in the AZI-SP group was 0.72 (95% CI 0.61 to 0.84, p<0.001) compared with the control and 0.76 (95% CI 0.65 to 0.90, p<0.001) compared with the monthly SP groups. There was no intergroup difference in stunting prevalence or anthropometric measurements.

    Conclusions In rural Malawi, maternal intensified infection control during pregnancy reduces offspring’s cumulative incidence of ever being stunted by 13 years of age. In this study, there was no evidence of a positive impact on cognitive performance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)323–328
    Issue number4
    Early online date3 Sept 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2022
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 2


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