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Antimalarial Drugs Administered During Pregnancy Safer Than Contracting Malaria, Study Suggests

“Antimalarial drugs are safer for pregnant women than contracting the disease,” according to a study from the University of Oxford published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases on Tuesday that “assess[ed] the effects of malaria and its treatment in the first trimester of pregnancy,” HealthCanal.com reports. The researchers examined the medical records of women who attended an antenatal clinic at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit in Thailand over a 25-year period and “found that malaria increased the risks of miscarriage from one in five pregnancies (in women without malaria) to one in two pregnancies,” the news service adds (12/12).

“New drugs, based on artemisinin combination therapies (ACT), have recently revolutionized malaria treatment, but so far they have not normally been available to women in the early stages of pregnancy because of fears they could damage the embryo,” IRIN notes. The researchers “do not pretend that their findings conclusively prove that ACT is safe, but they say: ‘Overall these results suggest that the adverse effects of malaria in the first trimester substantially outweigh any adverse effects of its treatment'” and that “‘the time has come to re-assess the treatment of malaria in early pregnancy,'” according to the news service (12/14).