Malaria is considered as the second most deadly and infectious disease just after tuberculosis. Malaria is responsible for the death of almost 1 million people annually across the world. It is a parasitic infection which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
According to the World Health Organisation it is a disease which affects mostly the poor and is also caused by poverty. But now-a-days it can happen to anyone irrespective of any circumstances and when a pregnant woman is infected with malaria, the symptoms are generally severe. There is a high chance of miscarriage, premature delivery, intrauterine demise, neonatal death and also low-birth-weight neonates. Malaria is caused because of five Plasmodia species:
- P malariae
- P .knowlesi
- P ovale
Out of the five, P falciparum is responsible for most deaths due to this infection.
Effect of Malaria during Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you are more susceptible to malaria when compared to the others. If you are suffering from malaria which is caused due to Plasmodium falciparum parasite, in particular, it can be fatal if not treated in proper time. This can lead to various complications. Malaria is responsible for maternal morbidity and poor birth outcomes. Malaria during pregnancy can lead to the complications like:
- High risk of anemia leading to maternal death.
- Hypoglycemia, leading to chronic low blood sugar.
- Kidney and Liver failure.
- Collection of fluid in the lungs, leading to breathlessness.
- Miscarriage, along with still birth is caused due to malarial fever in the mother.
- Placenta is infected by the parasites which lead to growth restriction of the fetal.
- The unborn baby becomes susceptible to the malarial infection and sometimes is born with the malarial infection.
Due to all these reasons, it is very important to get medical treatment once you are detected with malaria. An early diagnosis and treatment helps you to fight any further complications. You may not show symptoms of malarial infection, but even the presence of plasmodia parasites during pregnancy is sure to have a negative influence on your as well as on your foetus.
Treatment of Malaria during Pregnancy
Treatment of malaria may be quite cumbersome during pregnancy because of the many restrictions to use anti-malarial agents. Many medicines are not recommended during pregnancy as it may damage the fetus. The World Health Organisation has provided two main strategies to prevent as well as treat malaria:
- Provide insecticide- treated bed nets: The best preventive measure of malaria is use of bed nets which are treated with insecticide as the mosquitoes responsible for malaria are active between dusk to dawn.
- Intermittent Presumptive Treatment: IPT is a treatment with antimalarial medications where 2 or more doses of chemoprophylaxis are administered after 20 weeks of gestation in order to reduce the malarial load at the subclinical level.
To prevent malaria during pregnancy, you need proper diagnosis, appropriate drugs and effective educational programs which can make the people aware about malaria. The preventive measures include mosquito avoidance and chemoprophylaxis on one hand and on the other the treatment involves supportive measures and antimalarial drugs.