China rubra for side-effects of quinine: a prospective, randomised study in pregnant women with malaria in Cotonou, Benin

Background: In endemic areas, gestational malaria is responsible for low birth weight and maternal anaemia. Quinine is the reference treatment for acute malaria in pregnant women, irrespective of term. However, quinine administration is associated with various side-effects. We evaluated the impact of the homeopathic medicine China rubra 7CH on the side-effects of quinine used as treatment for acute malaria in pregnant women in Cotonou, Benin.Methods: This prospective, comparative, randomised study was carried out between June and December 2007 in the Saint Jean-Baptiste Medical Centre, Cotonou. Women were included if they were >3 months pregnant and had a clinical diagnosis of malaria confirmed by a positive thick blood smear. The study population was divided into two groups: (i) patients who presented between the 1st and 15th of each month and who received China rubra 7CH plus quinine (China group); and (ii) patients who presented from the 16th to the end of each month and who received treatment with quinine only (Standard group). The aim was to compare the frequency of side-effects of quinine in the two groups until day 6 after the start of treatment. Neither the patients nor the care givers were blinded to study treatment. Statistical comparison of the two groups was carried out with an alpha risk fixed at 5%.Results: 211 women were recruited: 105 received quinine plus China rubra 7CH (China group) and 106 received quinine only (Standard group). A decrease in proportion of patients presenting with side-effects was observed in the China group from day 0 to day 6 of follow-up (53.9%–23.3%) whereas the proportion of patients with side-effects in the Standard group did not change significantly (85.9% on day 0 vs. 82.5% on day 6). Ninety-six (72.4%) patients in the China group and 103 (97.2%) in the Standard group reported at least one side-effect during follow-up (p < 0.0001). The most frequently reported side-effects were tinnitus, dizziness and asthenia.Conclusions: This preliminary study shows the interest of China rubra 7CH in limiting the side-effects of quinine used for the treatment of acute malaria in pregnant women.

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