In a study by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, researchers determined that at least 60% of pregnant women worldwide are from malaria endemic areas.
In an effort to reduce the burden of malaria on pregnant women and their babies, the interest was in figuring out the number of women in these areas so scarce resources could be allocated wisely such as providing preventive medication like artemisinin to the women.
The researchers used data from various sources to calculate the annual number of pregnancies (the sum of live births, induced abortions, miscarriages, and still births) in each country. Finally, they calculated the annual number of pregnancies at risk of malaria in each country by multiplying the number of pregnancies in the entire country by the fraction of the population living within the spatial limits of malaria transmission in that country. In 2007, they calculate, 125.2 million pregnancies occurred in areas with P. falciparum and/or P. vivax transmission.
The dangers of malaria to the pregnant woman include anemia and the issue of the malaria parasite to hide in the placenta, avoiding immune detection and causing a prolonged infection.
For the baby it’s more disastrous. The parasites infesting red blood cells in the placenta rob a fetus of oxygen and nutrients. This can lead to more low birth weight babies, miscarriages, and stillbirths.