Novel Insights Into the Protective Role of Hemoglobin S and C Against Plasmodium falciparum Parasitemia
BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES There is paucity of information on the association between Plasmodium falciparum malaria and some human genetic markers in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Hence, a study was undertaken in children to assess the current level of subclinical malaria due to P. falciparum. METHODS Blood groups ABO and Rhesus factor, haemoglobin electrophoretic pattern, G-6-PD deficiency status and malaria were determined among 240 apparently healthy children in a crosssectional descriptive study using standard procedures. RESULTS The prevalence of P. falciparum malaria in this region was high (27.5%). Blood group O (51.3%) dominated the study population, followed by B (23.8%), A (21.3%), and AB (3.8%). Rhesus D positive accounted for 91.3% while Rh D negative was 8.7%. Sickle-cell trait (HbAS) prevalence was 12.5% while HbAA accounted for 87.5%. In all, 5.42% of the children were G-6- PD deficient while 94.58% had normal G-6-PD status. Chi-square analysis revealed that only blood group O and Rh D negative had a significant association with P. falciparum malaria (chi2=4.3636, p<0.05 and chi2 = 5.760, p<0.02 respectively). No significant association was found to exist between P. falciparum malaria and other genetic markers. CONCLUSION This study has provided the current prevalence rates of some genetic markers in a malaria endemic region of Niger Delta, Nigeria. Of all the genetic markers tested, only Blood group O and Rh D negative had significant and positive associations with P. falciparum infection.