The impact of insecticide-treated bednets on malaria and anaemia in pregnancy in Kassena-Nankana district, Ghana: a randomized controlled trial


Dr Browne Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. Fax: 00-233-51-60137; E-mail:


The impact of insecticide-treated bednet use on malaria and anaemia in pregnancy was assessed, as a supplementary study, in a major WHO/TDR-supported bednet trial in northern Ghana between July 1994 and April 1995. The study area was divided into 96 clusters of compounds, with 48 clusters being randomly allocated to intervention. All pregnant women were included in the study but the focus was on primigravidae and secundigravidae. 1961 pregnant women were recruited into the study – 1033 (52.7%) in the treated bednet group and 928 (47.3%) in the no net group. 1806 (92.1%) had blood taken for malaria microscopy and haemoglobin determination in the third trimester. Pregnancy outcomes were reported for 847 women. The characteristics of women in intervention and control groups were comparable. The odds ratios, with 95% confidence interval (CI), for different study endpoints were, for Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia – 0.89 (0.73, 1.08), for anaemia – 0.88 (0.70, 1.09), for low birthweight (LBW) – 0.87 (0.63, 1.19), indicating no benefit for treated bednet use. Effective net use by parity varied from 42% in primigravidae to 63% in multigravidae, in spite of free nets and insecticide impregnation. The main reasons for not using a net were warm weather and perceived absence of mosquito biting. Chloroquine use in pregnancy was low and comparable in both groups. Implications of findings for malaria control in pregnancy and further research are discussed.