Pregnancy and Malaria: Reducing Your Risk
British Columbia Specific Information
Malaria is a very serious disease caused by mosquito bites and tiny parasites that get into and multiply in the bloodstream. Symptoms may include headache, abdominal pain, chills, shaking, fever and sweats. Malaria can cause seizures, anemia, jaundice, heart failure, kidney failure, coma, and even death. To learn about malaria and how it can be prevented, see HealthLinkBC File #41f Malaria Prevention, BC Centre for Disease Control - Malaria, and Government of Canada – Malaria.
For specific information on protecting yourself or your children when travelling, see HealthLinkBC File #41a Health Advice for Travellers, HealthLinkBC File #41g The Pregnant Traveller, and HealthLinkBC File #41d Travelling with Children.
Pregnant women need to take every possible precaution to avoid malaria. Malaria can cause death of the mother and increase the risk of problems in a pregnancy. These problems can include premature birth, birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth. For these reasons, and because medicines that prevent malaria do not always work, women who are pregnant or likely to become pregnant should avoid travel to areas where malaria is present.footnote 1
If you must travel, you can take certain medicines that prevent malaria. Keep in mind that these medicines do not always work. So far, these medicines have not proved harmful to the fetus. But their safety has not been established.
You can also help prevent malaria by avoiding mosquito bites. Bed nets, long-sleeved shirts, air conditioning, and staying indoors can help.
Talk to your doctor, your local health unit or travel clinic, or contact the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) about your risk of contracting malaria in the country where you intend to travel.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Current as ofMay 22, 2015
Current as of: May 22, 2015
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