Malaria (cont.)

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Is malaria a particular problem during pregnancy?

Yes. Malaria may pose a serious threat to a pregnant woman and her fetus. Malaria infection in pregnant women may be more severe than in women who are not pregnant. Malaria may also increase the risk of problems with the pregnancy, including prematurity, abortion, and stillbirth. Statistics indicate that in sub-Saharan Africa, between 75,000-200,000 infants die from malaria per year; worldwide estimates indicate about 2 million children die from malaria each year. Therefore, all pregnant women who are living in or traveling to a malaria risk area should consult a doctor and take prescription drugs (for example, sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine) to avoid contracting malaria. Treatment of malaria in the pregnant female is similar to the usual treatment described above; however, drugs such as primaquine (Primaquine), tetracycline (Achromycin, Sumycin), doxycycline, and halofantrine (Halfan) are not recommended as they may harm the fetus. In addition to monitoring the patient for anemia, an OB/GYN specialist often is consulted for further management.

Is malaria a particular problem for children?

Yes. All children, including young infants, living in or traveling to malaria risk areas should take antimalarial drugs (for example, chloroquine and mefloquine [Lariam]). Although the recommendations for most antimalarial drugs are the same as for adults, it is crucial to use the correct dosage for the child. The dosage of drug depends on the age and weight of the child. A specialist in pediatric infectious diseases is recommended for consultation in prophylaxis (prevention) and treatment of children. Since an overdose of an antimalarial drug can be fatal, all antimalarial (and all other) drugs should be stored in childproof containers well out of the child's reach.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/11/2013

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