What is the safest antimalarial drug to be used by a pregnant woman in her second trimester?
With regards to treating malaria, intravenous artesunate (or quinine, if artesunate is not available) should be used for the treatment of severe/complicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Signs of severe and/or complicated malaria include impaired consciousness, organ failure, abnormal bleeding, hypoglycemia, severe anemia and/or inability to ingest medication orally. Treatment for uncomplicated malaria (where the above signs are absent) in pregnant women is usually chloroquine for P. vivax, P. ovale, P. knowlesi and P. malariae, as well as for P. falciparum if there are no reports of this parasite being resistant to chloroquine in the area. In places where P. falciparum is resistant to chloroquine, quinine and clindamycin should be used to treat this parasite in pregnant women.
As for preventative anti-malarials (chemoprophylaxis), if a pregnant woman is travelling to an area where only P. vivax, P. ovale, P. knowlesi, P. malariae or chloroquine-sensitive P. falciparum is transmitted, then she should take chloroquine to prevent malaria. In areas where P. falciparum is resistant to chloroquine, mefloquine is also suitable during pregnancy. Note that in some areas of south-east Asia, there are areas where P. falciparum is resistant to mefloquine, which may prevent its suitability as a prophylactic in this region. Preventing malaria during pregnancy is crucial, since the mother, particularly if it is her first baby, is especially vulnerable to the parasite. Moreover, malaria can have a negative impact on the fetus.