When a woman finds out she is pregnant, it is often an exciting, emotional, and nerve-racking time. For women in malaria-endemic countries, however, there is an additional concern: the risk of contracting malaria during pregnancy. This was a major worry for Kenyan mother Elyne Kaingu. Fortunately, during her second pregnancy, she received intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnancy (IPTp) at the health clinic, enabling her to have a malaria-free pregnancy. However, not all women are as fortunate as Kaingu.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) 2021 World Malaria Report, 34 percent of the more than 33 million pregnancies worldwide in 2020 were exposed to malaria, meaning more than 11 million women and babies were at risk for the serious complications that malaria in pregnancy (MiP) may entail, including anemia, the development of severe malaria, and risk of miscarriage or low infant birth weight.
Despite the urgent need, options for preventing and treating MiP are currently limited. Pregnant women are usually excluded from clinical trials to protect them and their babies from potential adverse effects of new drugs in development, making it difficult to determine the safety and appropriate dose to guide recommendations of new and existing drugs for use in pregnant women.
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