What are the complications of malaria?
Malaria in humans can be caused by a number of different parasites – the most dangerous, and the one which is responsible for over 90% of the worldwide deaths from malaria, is Plasmodium falciparum. Complications can include impaired consciousness, coma and even death. When a pregnant women gets malaria, there is danger of a miscarriage, giving birth to a low birth weight baby, and passing the infection to the baby.
If diagnosed and treated promptly, most cases of P. falciparum can be resolved quickly and without complications, using oral medication. However, the parasite can reproduce very quickly, meaning that cases can become more serious within days and even hours. As such, if P. falciparum infection is suspected, and particularly in high-risk individuals such as young children, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals, diagnosis should be sought immediately so that appropriate treatment can be delivered.
There is a discussion going on about the question of possible long-term consequences of malaria infection based on an earlier question in this forum. You can follow the discussion here: Long Term Health Effects of Malaria When Young.
In summary, there is little evidence of any long term effects on health from having single or relatively few malaria infections; however, this may partly be through lack of concerted research on this topic. Most research looks at the impact of chronic or very frequent malaria infections, such as that experienced by young children living in holo-endemic areas (i.e. sub-Saharan Africa).