Can Malaria Drugs Cause Miscarriage?

Malaria is a serious illness that is particularly dangerous for unborn babies and pregnant women. Doctors advise women against travelling to high-risk areas if they are pregnant or trying to conceive. Occasionally women have no choice and have to travel to these areas so it is important that they protect themselves. It is important that they seek their doctor’s advice regarding which antimalarials are most suitable.

Female mosquitos spread the disease by infecting their victim with a parasite.  It is a life-threatening disease found in tropical countries. Symptoms vary from chills, sickness and headache to anaemia, convulsions and coma.  Often symptoms don’t manifest themselves for months because the disease lies dormant.

Antimalarial medication prevents the disease because there are no vaccinations.  Strains vary depending which country you are visiting. Your doctor will prescribe the treatment most suitable for health and location.  It is important to take precautions to avoid being bitten in the first place. If you are pregnant you must inform your doctor who will prescribe the best course of treatment.

Pregnancy And Malaria

The World Health Organisation classifies malaria in pregnancy as a ‘significant public health problem’.  Complications vary according to where you acquired the infection and the type of parasite involved. Parasites in the placenta cause the most risk resulting in either stillborn babies, miscarriage or low birth weight.  Most women don’t have a natural immunity to the condition and are unable to fight off the infection.

Studies involving mice and the effect of the disease suggest that it affects brain development and cognitive ability.  Further studies need to be done to see if this is the case with human babies. Chemicals in the brain associated with brain development are thought to reduce due to malaria. Presently most research goes into looking at the effect of anaemia on the placenta and fetal development.

The first trimester is the riskiest time in the pregnancy regarding the effects on brain development.  While anaemia presents a major issue in ensuring the baby receives enough nutrients during gestation. Pregnant women are more susceptible to catching it because their immune systems are weaker.  

Treatment In Pregnancy

Iron and folic acid counteract the effects of anaemia on pregnancy.  Treating malaria during pregnancy is essential and prevents fatalities. However, antimalarials cause complications and damage to the unborn child.  Selecting the right treatment is difficult and causes different complications during different stages of the pregnancy.

Exposure to malaria increases resistance to malaria but doesn’t eliminate risks completely. A pregnant woman who travels to high-risk countries on holiday doesn’t have any immunity to malaria at all.  Treatment is risky and so is malaria so it is probably safer to avoid travelling to high-risk countries during pregnancy if you can.

It is easy to find out which countries are a malaria risk by searching on the internet. Some tropical countries are a very low risk.  You can enjoy an exotic holiday without worrying about the effects of antimalarials or malaria on your unborn child.

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