Malaria treatment may impact on disease risk for babies

Mosquito The mosquito carries the malaria parasite between humans

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Mothers who receive treatment for malaria infection could pass on lower levels of natural immunity to their babies, a study has suggested.

Edinburgh University experts found mice treated with malaria infection drugs before they became pregnant passed on fewer antibodies to their young.

Full-blown malaria gives the immune system the chance to produce protective antibodies to pass on.

However, it is thought the drug treatment shortens the process.

The mothers benefit while children's immunity is decreased, putting them at greater risk.

The researchers said their results highlighted the need to look at how treatment might be tailored most effectively for women and their babies.

Malaria affects millions of people worldwide, mainly in developing countries. One child dies from the disease in Africa every minute.

Dr Vincent Staszewski, of Edinburgh University's school of biological sciences, said: "How an infection plays out in an individual can impact on the immunity of the next generation.

"Some treatments against disease before or during pregnancy might be beneficial for maternal health but impair infant survival."

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.

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