pregnant woman
Courtesy of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
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Global team finds that artemesinin therapies are as safe as quinine for women in first trimester

By Sarah C.B. Guthrie 

Artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), medications widely used against malaria, are safe to administer to women in their first trimester of pregnancy, according to research published today. ACTs had previously been recommended at that stage of pregnancy only in life-saving circumstances. 

The findings, published in PLoS Medicine, comprise the largest meta-analysis of observational studies to date. They showed no difference in the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths or major birth defects associated with artemisinins, compared with quinine, in early pregnancy. 

Our results show that artemisinins can now be formally considered for first-trimester treatment,” said Andy Stergachis, corresponding author and University of Washington professor of pharmacy and global health. "While there is more work to be done in terms of monitoring birth defects, the available evidence suggests that the benefits of using this class of antimalarial are likely to outweigh any adverse outcomes.”

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