A mother’s infection with placental malaria (PM) can affect her child’s susceptibility to malaria, although the mechanism remains unclear. The fetus acquires a small amount of maternal cells and DNA known as maternal microchimerism (MMc), and it was hypothesized that PM increases MMc and that MMc alters risk of Plasmodium falciparum malaria during infancy. Here, the presence and level of cord blood MMc in offspring of women with and without PM was evaluated.
These data suggest that pregnant women are a significant reservoir of gametocyte transmission and should not be overlooked in elimination efforts. Interventions targeting this population would benefit from reaching women prior to first antenatal visit.