Pregnant women are three times more likely to develop severe Malaria than non-pregnant women acquiring infections from the same area.
One of the most prevalent mosquito-borne diseases around the world, malaria, along with other vector-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya affect millions of people annually. Notably, pregnant women are especially susceptible to malaria infection. Without existing vaccines, severe malaria can develop in pregnant women which will require emergency treatment, without which it can lead to pregnancy loss.
In women who are semi-immune, consequences of malaria in pregnant women include anaemia while stillbirth, premature delivery and foetal growth restriction affect the developing foetus.
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to malaria infection because of immunological changes occurring in pregnancy, and to the unique nature of a subset of P. falciparum parasites to sequester in the maternal blood spaces of the placenta. This placental malaria infection helps the parasite avoid clearance by the human immune system and infect the body.
Notably, in high transmission areas, malaria in pregnancy is most common in first-time mothers and prevalence and densities of parasitaemia both decline over subsequent pregnancies.
As for the consequences of malaria in pregnancy, they vary with transmission intensity. When the transmission is high, maternal anaemia is common, and infant low birth weight due to foetal growth restriction and/or premature delivery is frequent2. In low transmission areas, when non-immune pregnant women become infected, malaria infection may become severe and life-threatening, requiring emergency treatment.
Read more: News 18