- Pregnant women with malaria had less L-arginine and were associated with worse pregnancy outcomes
- Nitric oxide plays a key role in development of blood vessels in the placenta, and its synthesis requires L-arginine
- L-arginine supplementation in pregnant women with malaria can improve fetal weight and viability
Pregnant women infected with malaria have lower levels of L-arginine (essential amino acid) and are more likely to experience complications like stillbirths and low birth weight infants.
Worldwide, malaria infection in pregnancy (MIP) is a leading cause of maternal-child morbidity and mortality and reducing adverse birth outcomes is a global health priority. However, only a few safe and effective interventions exist.
‘L-arginine and nitric oxide are depleted during malaria infection in pregnancy (MIP) and supplementation of L-arginine can improve fetal weight and viability.’
Chloe McDonald and colleagues found that low levels of L-arginine in about 384 pregnant women were associated with worse pregnancy
outcomes in Malawi.
Supplementation of L-arginine
The research team studied the pregnant mice and found that the ones infected with malaria benefited from L-arginine supplementation, which increased viability and birth weights among the young one's delivered.
The results showed that the amino acid plays a vital role in the synthesis of nitric oxide, which helps in the development of blood vessels in the placenta.
Imaging of the pregnant mice with malaria was used to confirm how L-arginine supplementation can help reduce inflammation and prompts vascular development in the placenta, said McDonald et al.
Nearly 125 million women become pregnant every year in endemic malaria regions and where their diets are deficient in L-arginine.
In a related Focus, the "potential simplicity, affordability and practicality" of amino acid supplementation for these women were discussed by James Beeson and colleagues.
Novel interventions aimed to promote placental function can help improve birth outcomes for MIP and also for other causes of adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with placental insufficiency.
What is Malaria?
is one of the most serious diseases passed on to humans by mosquitoes. It is prevalent in many parts of the world.
Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for spreading malaria to human beings, who is the sole victim of the parasite.
is the most common of the five species of mosquitoes that cause malaria. It is considered to be a leading cause of death in low and middle-income countries.
Children under the age of 5 and pregnant women are at a higher risk of malaria.
One of the most disturbing factors about it is that resistance of the malaria parasite to anti-malarial drugs is increasing and becoming more widespread. These mosquitoes thrive only in tropical climate and cannot survive in cold areas.
Malaria in Pregnancy
Malaria infection during pregnancy is a public health problem and poses significant risks for the pregnant woman, fetus, and the newborn child.
Malaria infection during pregnancy and low birth weight is the result of Plasmodium falciparum infection.
Malaria has a propensity for grading primips and highly prevalent during 2nd trimester.
Congenital malaria due to vertical transmission from mother predisposes to low birth weight IUGR and abortion. Other significant implications are Anemia, Hypoglycemia lung injury and ARDS.