Review Article

Schistosomiasis infections in South African pregnant women: A review

Melissa D. Bengu, Vinogrin Dorsamy, Jagidesa Moodley
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 35, No 1 | a171 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v35i1.171 | © 2020 Melissa D. Bengu, Vinogrin Dorsamy, Jagidesa Moodley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2019 | Published: 23 September 2020

About the author(s)

Melissa D. Bengu, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Vinogrin Dorsamy, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Jagidesa Moodley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Schistosomiasis, a chronic parasitic disease caused by Schistosoma species, has a negative impact on pregnancy outcomes and child development. The disease affects over 230 million people worldwide, and in South Africa an estimated 5.2 million people are thought to be infected. However, there is scant data on the impact of schistosomiasis in pregnancy in South Africa and globally. The aim of this review was to analyse the current knowledge of schistosomiasis in pregnancy, particularly in South Africa, focusing on maternal and neonatal complications linked directly to the disease or its treatment.

Methods: An electronic search of online databases was used to identify and collect relevant research articles related to schistosomiasis in pregnancy, with a focus on South Africa.

Results: Schistosomiasis can cause severe organ damage when left untreated and influences maternal and foetal morbidity and mortality. Although South Africa’s first helminth control programme was established in 1997, there is currently no ongoing treatment strategy programme, and little information is available on prevalence rates in pregnant women for the last 20 years. There is also an absence of data from well-controlled clinical trials that focus on the efficacy and safety of treatment during pregnancy, which has led to this vulnerable group being neglected.

Conclusion: This review highlights the dearth of information on the impact of schistosomiasis in pregnant women in South Africa and the need for high-quality evidence-based studies.


Keywords

schistosomiasis; pregnancy; parasites; praziquantel; South Africa.

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