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Malaria in pregnancy is a serious public health problem in tropical areas. Frequently, the placenta is infected by accumulation of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in the intervillous space. Falciparum malaria acts during pregnancy by a range of mechanisms, and chronic or repeated infection and co-infections have insidious effects. The susceptibility of pregnant women to malaria is due to both immunological and humoral changes. Until a malaria vaccine becomes available, the deleterious effects of malaria in pregnancy can be avoided by protection against infection and prompt treatment with safe, effective antimalarial agents; however, concurrent infections such as with HIV and helminths during pregnancy are jeopardizing malaria control in sub-Saharan Africa.
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