Malaria in Babies – Symptoms and Treatment| Blog

Malaria in Babies – Symptoms and Treatment

Malaria in Babies – Symptoms and Treatment

by: Dr. (Maj) Manish Mannan
HOD Paediatrics & Neonatology

Malaria is one of the most common vector-borne diseases. When a mosquito infected with malaria parasite bites you, it injects the parasite in your body. Symptoms of malaria usually appear 10-15 days after the mosquito bite. Severe complications are common, especially with Plasmodium faciparum malarial parasite. Malaria if not treated timely can lead to many complications mainly in children, pregnant women, and older adults. Almost any system of the body can be affected by malarial parasite.

How is malaria spread in babies?

Malaria is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry malaria usually bite at night. If a pregnant woman has malaria during pregnancy, it can be passed to her unborn baby either before or during delivery. This is called congenital malaria. The baby is less prone to get malaria in the first three months of her life. This is because of the immunity you gave her during your pregnancy. As the baby grows older their immunity decreases and they become more and more prone to Malaria, because of the diminishing immunity or under-developed immunity.

Symptoms of malaria in babies:
Babies who are suffering from malaria will show sudden signs of behavioral changes like irritability, drowsiness, lethargy, loss of appetite and aversion towards food. Sign and symptoms of malaria may include:
• Fever.
• Anemia.
• Splenomegaly.
• Hepatomegaly.
• Restlessness.
• Vomiting.
• Diarrhea.
• Poor feed.
• Pallor.
• Respiratory distress.
• Cyanosis.
• Convulsions (in few cases)
Usually malaria in infants is asymptomatic or difficult to diagnosis because the clinical presentation may mimic other diseases, such as sepsis. Congenital malaria may be more common in newborns with suspected or confirmed sepsis.

Treatment of malaria in babies:
Malaria can at times lead to severe complications. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and treatment is required to fight it. Anti-malarial medicines such as chloroquine or quinine, given by mouth, by injection, or intravenously (into the veins) are used to treat malaria. The dose and line of treatment is based on the factors like type of malaria, whether you are pregnant, your age, the place where you were infected and the severity of the symptoms. Signs of dehydration, convulsions, anemia, and other complications that can affect the brain, kidneys, or spleen in the patient are looked out. Babies suffering from malaria should be kept on fluids, blood transfusions, and breathing assistance.

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