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Malaria advice for pregnancy

Wednesday November 12th, 2014

Pregnant women should limit travel to countries at risk of malaria, according to advice published today.

The UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say visits to areas where malaria is common, such as parts of Africa, Asia and South America, should only be taken if essential.

The patient information, published today (12 November), is aimed at women who live in the UK. It covers the risks of malaria, and how to avoid infection, how it is diagnosed, and treatments safe in pregnancy.

Women have a raised risk of infection when pregnant, as their immunity is reduced. But the dangers are also increased because pregnant women have a greater chance of developing a severe form of malaria, and severe complications.

Miscarriage, stillbirth and premature labour are also more likely if the mother catches malaria. But, as the leaflet explains, prompt and effective antimalarial treatment can cut these risks.

"Being aware of the risks of malaria to both mother and baby is important for women either pregnant or planning a pregnancy," warns Philippa Marsden of the College. "They should only travel to malaria-risk countries if absolutely necessary. If a pregnant woman must travel it is vital they take precautions to prevent mosquito bites. This patient information explains in detail how to reduce the risk of getting malaria."

Symptoms include high temperature or flu-like symptoms such as headache and muscle pain, cough and tiredness. It may take over a week after being bitten by a mosquito for symptoms to develop.

"If women are worried about symptoms after returning from a high risk country and think they may have malaria they should see a doctor immediately," says Cath Broderick of the RCOG.

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Traveller Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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