Public health experts have said that one of the major causes of premature births, maternal deaths, maternal anaemia, miscarriages and low birth weights in Nigeria is malaria in pregnancy. They said malaria in pregnancy often start without symptoms, and if not treated properly can become complicated leading to several unhealthy situations for the unborn baby, mother or even children under five years. Stating this during a media chat on Malaria in Pregnancy organised by the National Media Elimination Programme (NMEP) in collaboration with Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in Lagos recently, they said the health condition can be prevented, as well as effectively managed. According to the Head of Advocacy, Communications and Social Mobilisation, NMEP, Mrs. Itohowo Ukoone of the surest ways of overcoming this was through early commencement of antenatal care, adding that this could aid early diagnosis and prompt treatment of the condition. “Other ways are through uptake of Intermittent Preventive Treatment in Pregnancy (IPTp), regular and appropriate use of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) and keeping the environment clean and free from stagnant water. All these can prevent malaria in pregnancy,” she noted. While urging women to report to the hospital immediately they notice they are pregnant, she said malaria parasites can hide in the placenta and do damage to the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.

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