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Can I take anti-malaria medication if I'm pregnant or trying for a baby?

Posted by Be Well

Can I take anti-malaria medication if I'm pregnant or trying for a baby?
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If you are pregnant, ideally you should avoid traveling to a place where malaria is present. If your trip cannot be avoided, you should consult your doctor before taking any anti-malaria medication.

If you are not pregnant and due to travel to a place where malaria is present, you should delay trying for a baby while you are taking anti-malaria medication. With some medication, you may have to make sure that you do not get pregnant for three months after you stop taking it.

Malaria and pregnancy

Malaria is a serious illness, particularly for pregnant women. It can result in severe illness or death. Both the mother and unborn baby can be affected.

Malaria is caused by a parasitic germ that lives in mosquitoes. It's passed to people through mosquito bites. The illness is most common in tropical countries but it's spreading to other parts of the world, including Switzerland and the United States.

Taking anti-malaria medication while pregnant

If you are pregnant and cannot postpone or cancel your trip, you should seek your doctor's advice about taking medication to help prevent malaria. Some courses of medication need to be started before you travel, so you should seek advice well before your departure date.

The type of medication will depend on the country you visit, because malaria germs vary between different parts of the world. Sometimes the germs are resistant to medication. Your doctor will have up-to-date information about the most effective anti-malaria medication for your destination.

Some anti-malaria medicines have been taken safely during pregnancy for many years, while others should be avoided. For example, it's recommended that the anti-malaria medication mefloquine should be avoided during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. And medications such as doxycycline and atovaquone/proguanil are unsuitable for use at any time during pregnancy.

If you use a mosquito repellent on your skin, choose one specifically recommended for use in pregnancy.

Your doctor will advise which, if any, anti-malaria medication is appropriate for you and your circumstances. If medication is recommended for you, remember to take it regularly and exactly as prescribed. Your doctor may also recommend that you take folic acid supplements with your medication.

Can I try for a baby while taking anti-malaria medication?

If you are not pregnant, you should use contraception to avoid becoming pregnant while you are taking anti-malaria medication.

If you take the anti-malaria medication doxycycline while using combined hormonal contraception, the effectiveness of your contraception may be reduced. This applies whether you are using combined hormonal contraceptive patches or pills. You should use other methods of contraception, such as condoms, while your protection remains reduced.

If you are taking the anti-malaria medication mefloquine, you should avoid becoming pregnant for at least three months after you have taken the last dose.

If you are trying for a baby, speak with your doctor before you take any anti-malaria medication.

What if I take anti-malaria medication and then find out I'm pregnant?

If you find out you're pregnant within three months of taking anti-malaria medication, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible for advice.

NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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