Washington – A new study has revealed that children will more often than not die from either severe malaria or a swelling of the brain. However, inasmuch this revelation is not likely to immediately effect a change into the medical practice, researchers are confident that it would lead to improved treatments.
The disease is said to be common in the tropics and majorly caused by a parasite spread by mosquitoes. Globally, 198 Million Malaria cases were identified in 2013 alone with an estimation of 500,000 deaths and mostly children in Africa.
Though with drugs to prevent and treat Malaria, at some point it can be said to be fatal and especially in small children whose immunity system is still not very well developed. Worse still is the cerebral malaria which is very dangerous as it involves the brain. It can lead to death or a coma and with severe effect to a survivor which could include learning disabilities, blindness of even becoming deaf.
In an effort to identify the cure for this disease, researchers in Malawi carried out MRI scans on various children. 168 children whose illnesses seemed to fit a straightforward definition of Cerebral Malaria were involved.
What were the results like? 84 percent of 25 children who died were found to have severe brain swelling while 27 percent of those who survived had severe swellings.
The senior author of the study Dr. Terrie E. Taylor explained the results by stating that these deaths occur as a result of a child not being able to breath. “The swelling compresses the respiratory center in the brain stem hence the child stops breathing”. Taylor noted.
However, Taylor was quick to say that the children could be saved by use of ventilators. “Maintain their breathing even at their worst cases of brain swelling”. Advises Taylor. The sad part of it is that the ventilators are said not to be readily available in Africa. Besides, mannitol and steroids are drugs said to be helpful.