Mums-to-be are more likely to catch malaria because their immunity to all infections is lowered, according to new guidance published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).
Malaria infection carries severe risks for both mother and baby, the RCOG warns. It increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth and may cause the baby to have a low birth weight.
The infection is spread by mosquito bites and is most common in hot countries with high rainfall and high humidity, including large areas of Africa and Asia, Central and South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, parts of the Middle East and Far East, and some Pacific islands.
Pregnant women who have to travel to countries where there is a risk of malaria are advised to seek medical advice from a centre with experience in malaria as well as from their GP.
Women planning to get pregnant are also advised to avoid malaria-risk areas because anti-malarial medication may be harmful to their baby if taken at the time of conception or in the first three months of pregnancy.
The RCOG advise that this guidance applies only to women who live in the UK and may not apply to mums-to-be who live in an area where malaria is common, such as parts of Africa, Asia and South America.
For more advice and information visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
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