A Medical Practitioner, Dr. Ajidahun Olusina, has advised pregnant women to treat malaria as a very serious issue, warning that it can cause premature abortion, premature delivery and low birth weight.
He also urged pregnant women to regularly attend antenatal clinics to ensure adequate protection against malaria.
Taking to his twitter handle @the_beardedsina, he tweeted, “Malaria in pregnancy is really a big deal. It can cause premature abortion, reduction in the baby size and premature delivery. A lot of pregnancies are lost to malaria.
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“Pregnant mums should ensure they don’t miss antenatal visits to ensure adequate protection against malaria.”
The World Health Organisation also noted that malaria in pregnancy is a high risk as “pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity to malaria, making her more susceptible to infection and at greater risk of illness, severe anaemia and death.
“Maternal malaria also interferes with the growth of the foetus, increasing the risk of premature delivery and low birth weight – a leading cause of child mortality,” WHO added.
According to the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable people to malaria.
It was estimated by the WHO that in 2018, 11 million pregnant women were infected with malaria in areas of moderate and high disease transmission in sub-Saharan Africa and as a result, nearly 900, 000 children were born with low birth weight.
Also, a 2009 study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information titled, ‘Malaria and Pregnancy: A Global Health Perspective’ reported that “pregnant women infected with malaria usually have more severe symptoms and outcomes, with higher rates of miscarriage, intrauterine demise, premature delivery, low-birth-weight neonates and neonatal death. They are also at a higher risk for severe anaemia and maternal death.”
According to a report published by the National Library of Science, National Centre for Biotechnology Information, titled, ‘Prevalence of Malaria in Pregnant Women in Lagos, South-West Nigeria’, in Nigeria, 11 per cent of maternal deaths are attributed to malaria.
It noted that the worrisome malaria picture and the high prevalence rates of malaria in pregnancy in different parts of Nigeria have been reported by many researchers.
“Thus, pregnant women, who are known to be one of the groups at high risk of the effects of malaria infection, need special protective measures to ensure their survival and improve birth outcome,” the report stated.