In some developing nations, malaria is a constant threat to infantand child health. Net programs help prevent infection by providing free malaria nets to expecting women and women with young children, but despite the success of these programs at reducing the number of pregnant women, infants and children infected with malaria, infection still occurs. There are multiple strains of malaria, but for the first time, doctors are able to treat two of the most common strains simultaneously with combination therapy. The therapy is so successful that protection remains for up to six weeks after an infant stops taking the medications.

The two strains of malaria targeted by the combination therapy are Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum. The combination therapy, referred to as IPT, has been used in certain parts of Africa for several years. Researchers noted that nearly 80-percent of all malaria deaths occur in patients under the age of 5. IPT is particularly useful for infants and pregnant women. The treatment consists of brief periods of combination medication use and it is extremely cost effective.

The clinical trial included infants between the ages of three months and 15 months. Infants were given IPT at three-month intervals starting at three months of age and ending at one year. A combination of sulfadoxine or pyrimethamine and amodiaquine. These drugs help prevent infection of the two most common and deadly strains of malaria. After treatment, infant risk of malaria infection reduced by up to 35-percent for the falciparum strain and up to 23-percent for the vivax strain. The IPT medications were given to infants during regular vaccination check-ups. IPT does not interfere with natural immunity building and does not require continuous preventative treatment.

Source: Walter and Eliza Institute. 4 April 2012.