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malaria tablets when pregnant

(11 Posts)
boltonwanderer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:00:40

I've just found out I'm pregnant ( only 3 weeks) and I'm getting married in 2 weeks and going straight on honeymoon after that - to Tanzania and Mozambique. I was about to get the malaria tablets from the doctors when I found out I was pregnant. I'm in a whirl - we're so pleased we're having a baby, but we've paid a fortune for this amazing trip and yet I don't want to do anything to jeopardise the baby. I guess the only thing I can do is NOT take malaria tablets and just be super super careful about covering up. But do any of you have any advice?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 07-Jun-14 17:52:25

You are going to have to change your honeymoon destination, its not worth the risk to yourself or your unborn child to be unprotected in such an area and it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito. Malaria is a very nasty thing to contract.

This is from the NHS website:-

If you're pregnant, ideally you should not go to a place where malaria is present. If you have to travel, speak to your GP before taking any anti-malaria medication.

Malaria and pregnancy
Malaria is a serious illness, particularly for pregnant women. It can result in severe illness or death and affect both the mother and unborn baby.

Malaria is spread by mosquito bites and is most common in tropical countries. In 2012, more than 1,300 people in the UK got malaria after catching it abroad. Two of these people died.

If you're pregnant and can't delay or cancel your trip, get your GP's advice before you travel. You need to start taking some anti-malaria medicines before you travel, so seek advice well before your departure date.

Taking malaria tablets while pregnant
Your GP will advise you which, if any, anti-malaria medication to take. Remember to take it regularly and exactly as prescribed.

The type of medication you're prescribed will depend on where you're going, as the parasites that cause malaria vary around the world. Your GP will have up-to-date information about the most effective anti-malaria medication for your destination.

You can take some anti-malaria medicines safely during pregnancy, but should avoid others. For example:

•chloroquine and proguanil (usually combined) can be used in pregnancy, but may not offer enough protection against malaria in many regions, including Africa; you will also need to take a 5mg supplement of folic acid if you're taking proguanil (if you're in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, remember to continue with your usual 400 microgram folic acid supplement after you stop taking the proguanil – while you're taking the 5mg supplement, you don't need to take the 400 micrograms as well)
•mefloquine should not be taken during your first trimester (the first 12 weeks of pregnancy)
•doxycycline should not be taken at all during pregnancy
•atovaquone/proguanil should not be taken at all during pregnancy as there is a lack of evidence that it is safe to use in pregnancy

What if I'm trying for a baby?
If you're due to travel to a place where malaria is present, you should delay trying for a baby while you're taking anti-malaria medication. For more information, see Can I take malaria tablets if I'm trying for a baby?.

Avoid mosquito bites
While you're overseas, taking the steps below will help you to avoid mosquito bites:

•use a mosquito repellent on your skin – choose one specifically recommended for use in pregnancy and apply it often, following the manufacturer's instructions
•cover your arms and legs by wearing long-sleeved tops and long trousers after sunset
•use a spray or coil in your room to kill any mosquitoes before you go to bed
•sleep in a properly screened, air-conditioned room or under a mosquito net that's been treated with insecticide – make sure the net is not broken
•ideally, pregnant women should remain indoors between dusk and dawn

boltonwanderer Sat 07-Jun-14 18:40:51

Thanks for the advice but the problem is that I really can't change the destination at this stage .

PeriPathetic Sat 07-Jun-14 18:47:44

I took malaria tablets when pregnant.

I had to work in a malarial country for a while (not Africa). The specialist doctor I spoke to said it was ok and far, far better than NOT taking them. As in the potential slight risk outweighed the risk of getting malaria. I had no problems and only the usual side effects. I'm afraid I can't remember which ones I took, probably the older sort as DD is now a delightfully stroppy teen grin

meditrina Sat 07-Jun-14 18:51:07

You need to see a travel medicine expert ASAP.

You really must not travel with no malaria prophylaxis to risk areas.

It just isn't worth the risk in PG - for it is a far more serious, indeed deadly, condition then.

If the prophylaxis makes you sick, you have to keep downing it (ask for how long it takes to absorb, so if you hurl you know if you need to take another, and another, and another until you keep one down). And you really must take the full pre-and post exposure course. You need to do this in the next few days as some need taking a good week or so before travel.

Have you checked your travel insurance? If you destination has resistant malaria and there is no prophylaxis safe during pregnancy, then you should be able to cancel under medical clauses.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 07-Jun-14 19:50:33

You simply cannot risk going to malarial areas in such circumstances without being adequately protected and it only takes one bite from one infected female mosquito. Its not worth the risk either to you or your unborn baby.

Tanzania is cited as being chloroquine resistant.

Are you absolutely certain that you cannot change the destination at this stage; have you actually verified anything with your travel insurers?. At the very least you need to talk to them urgently, paying a fortune for the trip does not outweigh the potential risks to your health and wellbeing now.

WorkingBling Sat 07-Jun-14 19:53:11

You need to get professional medical advice, not an Internet forum for this one. You also need to confirm malaria risk in the countries you are going to. Eg in South Africa, malaria risk is not actually true year round, even in malaria areas. But I have no idea if that's true in other countries.

Congratulations on the baby!

eggybrokenoff Sat 07-Jun-14 19:59:19

I was in exactly your situation about 6 yrs ago (ds is 5.5).

found out a few weeks before honeymoon and was quite a shock.

you may well find your nhs gp will not touch you, will not prescribe and will tell you not to go. I went to a private travel clinic/gp who did a bit of research and was happy to prescribe.

I had already been prescribed and bought malarone before discovering pregnancy. new gp said not to take it and instead prescribed larium as I had already taken this in the past with no ill effects.

however on the trip were many well travelled people from other countries where in fact pregnant women were advised to take malarone!

so things may have changed but if I was in same situation I would choose malarone if I could based on what I know from 5 yrs ago.

hunt for a gp who will treat you, absolutely you must take something, and enjoy your wonderful holiday as a couple before baby arrives!

good luck

boltonwanderer Sat 07-Jun-14 22:47:46

Thank you so so much for all your advice. I travel a lot - lived in the Far East for years - and I've had malarone with no problems before. My GP won't prescribe I think, so I'm going to seek advice at a professional travel clinic if I can get in next week, but I'm leaving it pretty tight.
I'm very confused and I'm just looking for a way to do both I guess.

mousmous Sat 07-Jun-14 22:52:42

travel clinic.
and check the small print of the travel insurance.

Fishlegs Sat 07-Jun-14 23:01:15

I took chloroquine and proguanil as prophylaxis in similar circs to yours, OP. Even though I took 5mg folic acid (proguanil messes up folic acid metabolism/absorption) my son was born with a cleft lip and palate. There is no family history of this, and I'm sure it was a direct result of the anti-malarials.

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