Malaria, a parasitic infection transmitted by mosquitoes, is one of the most devastating infectious diseases, killing more than 1 million people annually. Pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised individuals have the highest morbidity and mortality, and Africa bears the heaviest burden.
Malaria in pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and fetal anemia, stillbirth, spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and neonatal death. Infants born to mothers living in endemic areas are vulnerable to malaria from approximately 3 months of age, when immunity acquired from the mother starts to wane.
In Nigeria, 11% of maternal deaths are attributed to malaria. To further buttress the worrisome malaria picture, many researchers have reported high prevalence rates of malaria in pregnancy in different parts of Nigeria, ranging from 19.7% to 72.0%.
Doctors usually tell women to avoid medicines during pregnancy, if possible, especially during the first 3 months. That is when a baby’s organs form. But sometimes, you have to take medicine to treat a health problem, such as malaria.
What are the safest antimalarial drug in pregnancy?
Strong evidence now demonstrates that artemether-lumefantrine combination is effective and safe in the treatment of malaria in pregnancy. These data are supported by the World Health Organization.
The CDC now recommends the use of artemether-lumefantrine as an additional treatment option for uncomplicated malaria in pregnant women in the United States during the second and third trimester of pregnancy at the same doses recommended for nonpregnant women. During the first trimester of pregnancy, mefloquine or quinine plus clindamycin should be used as treatment; however, when neither of these options is available, artemether-lumefantrine should be considered.
List of safe malaria drugs for pregnant woman in Nigeria include:
However, always talk to your doctor before taking any malaria drug during pregnancy. If you take prescription medicine during pregnancy, some can cause problems for your baby, like premature birth, NAS and birth defects. Tell your provider about any prescription medicine you take. You may need to stop taking a medicine or switch to one that’s safer during pregnancy. Read: Can I Take Malaria Drugs With Antibiotics?