Mothers may not pass on high malaria immunity levels

New research suggests that mothers who have received treatment for malaria may pass on lower levels of immunity to their children than might otherwise be expected.

A study undertaken by Edinburgh University scientists found that mice treated with anti-malarials before becoming pregnant passed on fewer antibodies to their offspring, according to the BBC.

Full-blown infection from malaria allows the immune system to produce large amounts of antibodies that can then be transferred. It is believed that drug treatment interrupts this process. Mothers may benefit, but their children are put at greater risk.

The scientists said that the study's results prove a need to examine how future malaria treatments can be tailored to be more effective for both mothers and their children.

"How an infection plays out in an individual can impact on the immunity of the next generation," Dr. Vincent Staszewski of Edinburgh University's school of biological sciences and a co-author of the study, said, the BBC reports. "Some treatments against disease before or during pregnancy might be beneficial for maternal health but impair infant survival."

The study, which was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was funded by the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust.