Anti-malaria drug artemisinin does not have a harmful effect on pregnancies in the first trimester compared with other established treatments, according to a joint study published Tuesday, possibly paving the way for the drug's use by pregnant women.
The research, carried out by Oxford University, the University of Melbourne and Mahidol University in Thailand, found no evidence that artemisinin use correlates to an increased chance of miscarriage or congenital defects.
“The study adds to the body of evidence that artemisinins do not cause adverse effects in pregnancy,” said Oxford Professor Nick White.
The study compared the impact of taking artemisinin with quinine, a less effective anti-malarial.
"Its findings should help international authorities reconsider their treatment recommendations for women in early pregnancy,” White said.
According to the study published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet, malaria infects 125 million pregnant women annually, and increases the risk of maternal and infant death.