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Malaria is very dangerous for pregnant women. Wherever malaria is common, they should prevent malaria by taking antimalarial tablets recommended by a trained health worker and by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.
Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from malaria than other women. The disease is more dangerous during pregnancy, especially during the first pregnancy. This is due to changes in a woman's body that lower her previous level of resistance to malaria. Malaria can cause severe anaemia ('thin blood'), miscarriage, premature birth or stillbirth.
Babies born to mothers who have had malaria during pregnancy are often underweight. This makes them more vulnerable to infection or death during their first year.
Women in their first pregnancy in areas where malaria is prevalent often do not show the typical signs of malaria.
As preventive treatment, pregnant women in malarial areas, especially those in their first pregnancy, who can be asymptomatic (without symptoms), should take antimalarial tablets in the second and third trimesters, as recommended by a trained health worker. The health worker will know which antimalarial tablets are best to take.
It is also very important that pregnant women sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Pregnant women with signs and symptoms of Plasmodium falciparum malaria must be treated immediately by a trained health worker with quinine in the first trimester and ACTs in the second and third trimesters.