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Drugs used to combat malaria in pregnancy also protects against sexually transmitted infections

Scaling-up use of ‘double protection’ drug reduces chances of life-threatening birth outcomes

A drug given to pregnant women in 35 countries worldwide to protect against malaria has been shown also to safeguard against the consequences of gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and bacterial vaginosis, according to a new study published today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The World Health Organization recommends providing intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp) using sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to pregnant women living in malaria-endemic areas as part of every scheduled antenatal care visit, from the second trimester until delivery, to reduce adverse birth outcomes caused by malaria infection.

This study has produced the first compelling evidence that the same preventive treatment reduces adverse birth outcomes attributable to curable sexually transmitted/reproductive tract infections (STIs/RTIs).

The research, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with partners the University of Zambia, involved 1,086 pregnant women in Zambia. Researchers investigated the protective effect that different doses of IPTp-SP had on pregnancy outcomes. The analyses confirmed IPTp-SP protects against adverse birth outcomes but of particular interest to the team was the effect the drug had on the infections themselves.

At delivery, women who experienced an adverse birth outcome who had had two …

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