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Health of Mothers and Children Show Improvement after Use of Insecticide-Treated Bed Nets

d controlled trials conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Review co-author Feiko ter Kuile is an author of two of these trials.

The studies comprised more than 6,400 pregnant women and showed that bed nets reduced the risk of parasite infection in the placenta by 21 percent. In women carrying their first to fourth babies, these nets reduced the occurrence of miscarriages or stillbirths by 33 percent and underweight newborns by 23 percent. The effects on severe anemia in the mothers were inconclusive.

The review included another trial of 341 women in Thailand, which compared insecticide-treated nets with untreated nets. This trial showed that women using treated nets were less likely to have anemia or miscarriages, but the insecticide had no impact on other outcomes.

Malaria in Asia and Latin America is generally caused by less deadly parasite species than the one that predominates in Africa. Moreover, people often do not have acquired immunity in these regions, so illness and mortality patterns are quite different. Further research is required before use of nets can be recommended in these areas, say the authors.

The World Health Organization sees insecticide-treated nets as a critical adjunct to medications in preventing malaria-related illness and death in Africa, according to Dr. Juliana Yartey of the group’s Department of Making Pregnancy Safer.

More than 70 percent of African women receive prenatal care at least once during pregnancy, said Yartey, and WHO recommends that all receive an insecticide-treated net at their first clinic visit. In rural and hard-to-reach areas, these nets are often distributed through campaigns and outreach programs.

Yartey said that sleeping under an insecticide-treated net offers direct protection to a woman, along with her husband and any children who share her bed. These nets also offer indirect protection to others in the household and community by reducing th
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