Effect of artesunate plus sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine on haematological recovery and anaemia, in Kenyan children with uncomplicated, Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
Obonyo CO., Taylor W., Ekvall H., Kaneko A., Ter Kuile F., Olliaro P., Bjorkman A., Oloo AJ.
Malaria-associated anaemia is a major public-health problem. Although the treatment of uncomplicated, Plasmodium falciparum malaria aims to clear the parasites, relieve the symptoms and permit haematological recovery, data on the impact of antimalarial treatment on haematological recovery are few. Haematological recovery and the prevalence of anaemia were therefore evaluated in 600 Kenyan children with uncomplicated malaria who were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. The children were given sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) on day 0, SP plus artesunate on day 0 (AS1), or SP on day 0 and artesunate on each of days 0-2 (AS3). Haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations were measured on days 0, 7, 14, 21 and 28, with haematological recovery defined as a day-28 Hb concentration of at least 11 g/dl. Only 96 (18%) of the 543 children who were anaemic (i.e. with <11.0 g Hb/dl) at enrolment achieved haematological recovery. The prevalence of anaemia fell from 91% on day 0 to 74% (252/340) by day 28 (P=0.065). Compared with SP alone, neither artesunate regimen resulted in higher Hb concentrations on day 28 (with means of 10.2, 9.9 and 10.2 g/dl for AS3, AS1 and SP, respectively; P=0.254), a higher frequency of haematological recovery (19%, 14% and 20% for AS3, AS1 and SP, respectively; P=0.301) or a greater reduction in the prevalence of anaemia (prevalences in the AS3, AS1 and SP arms falling from 90%, 89% and 93%, respectively, on day 0, to corresponding values of 71%, 82% and 69% on day 28; P=0.40). In fact, between days 0 and 7, the children in the AS3 arm showed a larger drop in mean Hb than the children in the other two treatment arms. In general, haematological recovery was most likely in older children who had mild anaemia at presentation and were parasitologically cured. Overall, the frequencies of haematological recovery were modest and not influenced by the artesunate treatments. Other factors contributing to anaemia need to be explored more fully.