USE OF ARTEMISININ & ARTEMISININ DERIVATIVES IN PREGNANCY

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(Date of issue: March 2016, Version: 1)

This is a UKTIS monograph for use by health care professionals. For case-specific advice please contact UKTIS on 0344 892 0909. To report an exposure please download and complete a pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Summary

Artemisinin and its derivatives (artesunate, artemether, dihydroartemisinin) are used in the treatment of malaria, usually in combination with other antimalarials, which is termed artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). They are not generally used for malaria prophylaxis due to their short half-life. In the UK the only licensed artemisinin derivative is artemether (in combination with lumefantrine).

Because artemisinins are associated with embryolethality in animal studies, there are theoretical concerns regarding use in humans. Currently available human data are, however, too limited to facilitate an evidence-based assessment of spontaneous abortion or congenital malformation risk following exposure to artemisinin and its derivatives during pregnancy. However, a large number of second and third trimester pregnancy exposures have been documented which do not signal that gestational exposure to artemisinin or its derivatives is associated with increased rates of intrauterine death, decreased fetal growth or preterm delivery above those observed in women treated with other antimalarials.

Untreated or inadequately treated maternal malaria infection poses a serious risk to both the mother and the fetus, therefore treatment with artemisinin or artemisinin derivatives should not be withheld at any stage of pregnancy if considered essential for maternal treatment.

Exposure to artemisinin and derivatives of the compound at any stage in pregnancy in the absence of maternal malaria infection would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for additional fetal monitoring above that routinely offered in the UK. However, other risk factors may be present in individual cases which may independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments. Discussion with UKTIS is recommended in all cases.

This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on UKTIS.org.

This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to health care professionals at www.toxbase.org.

If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.

If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org or UKTIS.org to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.