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Influence of ABO blood groups in malaria infected pregnant women in Enugu, South-East, Nigeria

Malaria infection during pregnancy is a significant public health problem with substantial risks for the pregnant woman, her fetus, and the new-born child. Malaria-associated maternal illness and low birth weight is mostly the result of Plasmodium falciparum infection and occurs predominantly in Africa. The influence of ABO blood groups on malaria infected pregnant women were investigated in Enugu, South- East, Nigeria. Two hundred and fifty women consisting of 200 pregnant women and 50 non-pregnant women (control) aged 19 to 35 years participated in the study. After obtaining informed consent from the participants, their blood samples were collected for total white blood cell, blood grouping and blood smears for malaria parasites. In the blood groups A, B, AB and O, the malaria parasite density increased significantly in the first, second and third trimesters when compared with the control respectively. Primigravida recorded the highest incidence with highest number of parasite positivity. Blood group O+ recorded the highest incidence but group AB+ recorded highest parasite positivity in the second trimester. The study has demonstrated more malaria parasite densities in blood groups AB+ and O+ of pregnant women in first and second trimester. Since group AB has both A and B antigens and group O has both anti-A and anti-B antibodies, these findings may suggest that ABO blood group has no influence on malaria parasites in pregnancy.

Author(s): Silas A Ufelle, Kenechukwu C Onyekwelu, Joy E Ikekpeazu, Richard C Ezeh, Emmanuel A Esom, Uzoamaka A Okoli