I am concerned that my 22 yr old daughter has anaemia (tired & sleepy), possibly caused by Malaria (Katima Mulilo, Namibia), which I contracted just before returning to Cape Town.
I fell pregnant at that time. I was treated at the local hospital before returning home. Could it have affected the unborn fetus? My daughter has a low red blood count.
Congenital malaria occurs when a foetus is infected with malaria from the mother, either through transmission across the placenta or during childbirth. It can cause serious complications for the foetus, including spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and anaemia.
However, I don’t think there is any evidence that anaemia persists later into life—usually congenital malaria only affects newborns a few weeks after birth.
One of our maternal/child health experts says that she knows of one study (mentioned in the Tanzania Journal of Health Research) which suggests that immune priming due to congenital malaria could result in longer term effects in infancy and childhood—however, anaemia is not mentioned specifically and the article emphasises that more study is required to confirm this hypothesis.
Our advisory expert also says that anaemia is common in teenage and pubescent girls, and it is important to confirm the anaemia with a haemaglobin blood test, and get advice regarding improving her diet and perhaps taking iron supplements if indeed she is anaemic.