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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2017

Cognitive performance of children living in endemic areas for Plasmodium vivax

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2017
Laélia M. B. F. Brasil, José L. F. Vieira, Eliete C. Araújo, Pedro P. F. Piani, Rosa M. Dias, Ana M. R. S. Ventura, Bianca C. Cabral, Renée C. R. Santa Brígida, Marcieni A. de Andrade



The role of repeated episodes of malaria on the cognitive development of children is a relevant issue in endemic areas since it can have a long-lasting impact on individual lifespan. The aim of the current paper was to investigate whether the history of malaria can impair the verbal and performance skills of children living in an endemic area with low transmission of Plasmodium vivax malaria.


A cross-sectional study was conducted with children living in an endemic area of P. vivax malaria in Brazilian Amazon basin. The history of episodes of malaria was used as criteria for inclusion of children in the groups. The cognitive performance was assessed by the Wechsler intelligence scale for children-III edition (WISC-III), which was applied to the participants of study by two trained psychologists.


A total of 17 cases and 26 controls was included in the study. A significant low score of verbal quotient was found in the cases (p = 0.005), however, the performance IQ was similar in both groups (p = 0.304). The full-scale IQ was significantly lower in the cases when compared to the controls (p = 0.042). The factorials index showed significant difference only in the subtest of verbal comprehension with the lower values in the cases (p = 0.0382), compared to the controls. The perceptual organization (p = 0.363), freedom from distractability (p = 0.180) and processing speed (p = 0.132) were similar in both groups.


Children with a history of vivax malaria has a significant impairment of verbal and full-scale quotients as well as a significant low index of verbal comprehension. These findings are likely due to the absenteeism caused by malaria and by the low parental education, which impairs an adequate response to the environmental stimulus.
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