Giving infants preventive treatment for malaria can reduce malaria andanaemia even in seasonal, high transmission areas such as Ghana, findsa study in this week's BMJ.
But concern exists about a possible rebound when treatment is stopped, warn the authors.
The study followed over 2,400 infants in Ghana who were given apreventive treatment for malaria or a placebo (dummy pill) when theyreceived routine vaccinations and at 12 months of age.
Preventive treatment reduced malaria by 25% and anaemia by 35%up to age 15 months. However, malaria levels increased 20% whentreatment was stopped in the second year of life.
The protective effect was also substantially lower than that reported from previous studies in Tanzania.
Because these findings run counter to earlier studies, theauthors suggest that more data are needed to decide on the appropriatedose schedule for preventive drugs in areas with high seasonaltransmission and its interaction with insecticide treated bed nets.
However, intermittent preventive treatment in infants, linkedto the expanded programme of immunisation schedule, has the potentialto reduce the burden of malaria even in areas with high seasonaltransmission, they conclude.
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