Malaria

Although malaria is not endemic to the US, many US travelers are affected by this illness when traveling to places such as sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America. Malaria has been shown to cause maternal anemia, premature birth, and low birth weight in affected infants. (1, 2) Data collected from clinical trials shows that sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine is a safe drug to use in preventing malaria among pregnant women. (2) Further, HIV infected mothers need more than two doses to provide the same protective effect as that observed for non-HIV positive women. (2)

The World Health Organization also suggests that pregnant women who are either visiting or living in malaria endemic areas follow the following prevention measures: (1) sleep under insecticide-treated bednets and (2) use intermittent preventive treatment such as sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. There is currently no vaccine available for this disease. (2)

Thomas W. Hale, Ph.D.

References:
1. Walther B, Miles DJ, Crozier S, et al. Placental malaria is associated with reduced early life weight development of affected children independent of low birth weight. Malar J.9:16.
2. Newman RD RM, Quakyi I. Malaria during pregnancy: epidemiology, current prevention strategies, and future directions. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol10no11/04-0624_09.htm.