TUESDAY, Dec. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Using insecticide sprays along with bed nets does not provide children with more protection against malaria than nets alone, a new study finds.
The study included about 8,000 children, aged 6 months to 14 years, in the West African nation of Gambia, who used either insecticidal bed nets alone or the bed nets in combination with having their homes sprayed with the insecticide DDT. The insecticide was sprayed on walls and ceilings, where mosquitoes are most likely to land.
Over two years of follow-up, both groups of children had similar numbers of malaria cases. The researchers also found that insecticide spraying did not reduce the number of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in homes.
The results suggest that bed nets are the most cost-effective way to protect against malaria and that aid groups should invest their limited resources in additional bed nets, according to the report in the Dec. 8 issue of The Lancet.
"Our findings do not support any universal recommendation for indoor residual spraying as an addition to long-lasting insecticidal nets across sub-Saharan Africa. High bed net use is sufficient to protect people against malaria in areas that have low or moderate levels of malaria, like The Gambia," lead author Steve Lindsay, a disease ecologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom, said in a journal news release.
There were about 207 million cases of malaria and 627,000 malaria deaths worldwide in 2012, mostly among children in Africa.
Research has shown that bed nets and indoor spraying of insecticides both reduce the number of malaria deaths. However, the study authors said that this is the first study to examine whether combining both approaches could reduce malaria risk even more.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about malaria.