Google Play icon

Common malaria meds pose no undue risk in early pregnancy

Share
Posted May 3, 2017

Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), medications widely used against malaria, are safe to administer to women in their first trimester of pregnancy, according to research published today. ACTs had previously been recommended at that stage of pregnancy only in life-saving circumstances.

Use of artemesinin therapies was found to have no greater risk than quinine among women in first-trimester pregnancies. Image credit: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

The findings, published in PLoS Medicine, comprise the largest meta-analysis of observational studies to date. They showed no difference in the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths or major birth defects associated with artemisinins, compared with quinine, in early pregnancy.

“Our results show that artemisinins can now be formally considered for first-trimester treatment,” said Andy Stergachis, corresponding author and University of Washington professor of pharmacy and global health. “While there is more work to be done in terms of monitoring birth defects, the available evidence suggests that the benefits of using this class of antimalarial are likely to outweigh any adverse outcomes.”

Malaria is more common and more severe in pregnant women, increasing their risk of miscarriage and other adverse outcomes. The potential harm of malaria in pregnancy require prompt treatment, and the World Health Organization currently recommends ACTs for pregnant women in the second or third trimesters.

Until now, though, data was limited about ACTs’ safety and effectiveness in the first trimester.  The findings may result in reconsideration of guidelines regarding artemisinins.

“We have been able to show that artemisinins, which we know to improve outcomes in malaria, are as safe to use in the first trimester as quinine, which is currently recommended but needs to be taken three times per day for seven days,” said Liverpool’s professor Feiko ter Kuile, head of the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium. “Quinine is associated with transient side effects such a ringing in the ears and dizziness, leading women not to complete their treatment course and risking inadequately treating their malaria. The artemisinin-based combinations are more efficacious, much better tolerated and can be taken over three days.”

The team analyzed data from 30,618 pregnancies involved in five earlier studies. They examined the records of women who had taken artemisinins for malaria, including during the first trimester of pregnancy. In malaria-endemic countries, many early pregnancies are exposed to artemisinins because women taking the therapy are not aware they are pregnant or do not report an early pregnancy.

Contributing organizations included the Liverpool (UK) School of Tropical Medicine, the Manhiça Health Research Centre/Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, and the UW. The effort was coordinated through the Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium, established in 2007 at the Liverpool school to improve the control and prevention of malaria in pregnancy. The consortium is funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Source: University of Washington

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
83,374 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. Bright Fireball Explodes Over Ontario, Meteorite Fragments Might Have Reached the Ground (August 5, 2019)
  2. Why older people smell the way they do? Japanese have even a special word for it (August 4, 2019)
  3. Terraforming the Surface of Mars with Silica Aerogel? (July 23, 2019)
  4. Moisturizers May Be Turning Your Skin Into ‘Swiss Cheese’ (4 days old)
  5. Swarm Autonomy Tested in Second Major DARPA OFFSET Field Experiment (August 8, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email