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Life - Health & Wellness Updated: November 21, 2023

Expert reveals dangers of untreated malaria in pregnant women

By Felicia Abisola Olamiji
November 21, 2023
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A physician has revealed that malaria infection during pregnancy comes with life-threatening complications and may lead to death of both the mother and her unborn baby if left untreated. 

Besides the risk of abortion, the physicians said pregnant women with malaria also stand the risk of falling into a coma.

According to the World Health Organisation, malaria is a preventable and curable illness caused by Plasmodium parasites, which spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

Malaria has remained a killer disease and a major public health concern. In 2021, the WHO stated that 194,000 deaths were recorded with 69 million cases around the country.

Olusegun Ademowo, a professor of Biochemical Pharmacology at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Oyo State, who spoke during an interview with Punch stated that leaving pregnant women and children with symptoms of malaria without treatment could lead to death and coma.

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He explained that the risk of death and coma in pregnant women and children is due to their low immunity.

According to Ademowo, the fatality of untreated malaria in persons from non-endemic areas is different from those from endemic areas.

Endemic areas mean that a particular disease is constantly present in a particular area or region. Nigeria is one of the malaria-endemic countries because it is located in one of the three eco-epidemiological zones of malaria; Afrotropical, Oriental and Palaeartctic.

The don said, “The difference is that the person coming from a non-endemic environment is non-immune because such a person has not been exposed to malaria before. So, the body’s immune system would not be able to fight it and this can easily lead to pathological effects that could lead to a lot of complications and a fatal end.

“For those in the endemic environment, if the malaria is not treated, they have some immunity which develops as one advance in age. This means that children, especially those under the age of five are less immune than adults. The severity is more among children than adults because adults already have developed immune systems but not 100 per cent.”

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He further noted that untreated malaria in pregnant women, due to low immunity at this stage, could lead to abortion and or death of both the foetus and mother.

Ademowo reiterated that untreated malaria in general is dangerous and could lead to a fatal end.

“Looking at the different categories of malaria, we have uncomplicated malaria which comes with the regular symptoms of malaria and we call that symptomatic or uncomplicated malaria.

“But we also have complicated malaria, which is the one we call severe malaria. It is clinically complicated because the person has all the symptoms, in children; they can have cerebral malaria if untreated. If one has untreated malaria, it could progress to a fatal end,” he said.

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Felicia Abisola Olamiji

  A graduate of English Language from Olabisi Onabanjo University, passionate about learning new...

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