Prostration and the prognosis of death in African children with severe malaria

Agnandji ST, Recker M, Mordmüller B, Glöckner S, Adegnika AA, Lell B, Otieno L, Otieno W, Owusu-Agyei S, Asante KP, Agbenyega T, Ansong D, Macete E, Aide P, Sorgho H, Tinto H, Mturi N, Lusingu JPA, Gesase S, Hoffman I, Masoud NS, Newton CR, Bojang K, Krause G, Kremsner PG
Int J Infect Dis. 2023;134

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OBJECTIVES: Malaria is still one of the main reasons for hospitalization in children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Rapid risk stratification at admission is essential for optimal medical care and improved prognosis. Whereas coma, deep breathing, and, to a lesser degree, severe anemia are established predictors of malaria-related death, the value of assessing prostration for risk stratification is less certain. METHODS: Here we used a retrospective multi-center analysis comprising over 33,000 hospitalized children from four large studies, including two observational studies from the Severe Malaria in African Children network, a randomized controlled treatment study, and the phase-3-clinical RTS,S-malaria vaccine trial, to evaluate known risk factors of mortality and with a specific emphasis on the role of prostration. RESULTS: Despite comparable age profiles of the participants, we found significant inter- and intra-study variation in the incidence of fatal malaria as well as in the derived risk ratios associated with the four risk factors: coma, deep breathing, anemia, and prostration. Despite pronounced variations, prostration was significantly associated with an increased risk of mortality (P <0.001) and its consideration resulted in improved predictive performance, both in a multivariate model and a univariate model based on the Lambaréné Organ Dysfunction Score. CONCLUSION: Prostration is an important clinical criterion to determine severe pediatric malaria with possible fatal outcomes.