Expecting mothers face many complications if they suffer from malaria during pregnancy. Some of these are as follows:
1. Anemia: When the malaria parasite infects the pregnant woman’s blood it causes haemolysis or rupture of RBC which causes an additional need of blood supply. This causes anemia which could lead to hemorrhage and maternal mortality in certain cases.
2. Renal failure: Unobserved dehydrration during malaria can lead to renal failure and the patient will need to undergo fluid management and diuretic as a part of its treatment. In certain cases, dialysis may also be required.
3. Hypoglycemia: This condition occurs when the blood sugar level reduces and falls below 60 mg/dl. The increased action of the falciparum parasites causes this condition which then leads to the enhanced use of glucose and low glucose production. This symptom is asymptomatic and needs constant monitoring.
4. Immune suppression: Your body undergoes many hormonal changes during pregnancy which impact the immune system in a big way. Your body produces immunosuppressive hormone called cortisol, which reduces immunity. When cortisol level rise, the resistance to malaria also decreases and this can lead to many complications like cerebral malaria, pulmonary oedema, hyperglycemia and hyperpyrexia.
5. Acute pulmonary oedema: Known as severest form of anemia, it occurs during 2nd or 3rd trimester. The falciparum infection causes fluid leakage into the lungs, a condition created by the formation of a membrane in the alveoli.
Complications on foetus
When a mother is infected with malaria, the foetus could face complications too. These are –
• IUGR or Low birth weight: Malarial parasites interferes with the O2 and nutrient supply to the growing foetus. This leads to infant with low birth and IUGR. There are chances of complications for infants which are born with weight less than 2.5 kg.
• Preterm delivery: it is the placenta where the malarial parasites strike and multiply and it is through this infected parasite that antibodies and cystkiner are carried, triggered an active inflammatory response and thus lead to early labour.
• Vertical transmission: Risk of malaria parasite can easily pass on from the mother to the baby. If malaria is detected on time and mother receives proper medications, the foetus remains safe too.
That is the reason most doctor’s advice blood screening of the baby after birth to ensure it has been infected.