e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Insecticide-treated nets to reduce the risk of malaria in pregnant women

Pregnancy reduces a woman’s immunity, making pregnant women more susceptible to malaria infection and increasing the risk of illness, anaemia, severe disease and death. For the unborn child, maternal malaria increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight – a leading cause of child mortality.

Evidence shows that in malaria-endemic areas, sleeping under mosquito nets treated with an insecticide is beneficial to the health of the pregnant woman, her fetus and the newborn infant. Long-lasting insecticidal nets are designed to maintain their effectiveness against mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases for at least three years. Studies have shown that long-lasting insecticidal nets may be less expensive to use than conventionally treated nets.

Insecticide-treated nets are safe for use as a personal protection method during pregnancy. Women should start using them as early in pregnancy as possible, and continue to use them throughout pregnancy and in the postpartum period for both mother and child.

WHO recommendations

Universal access to and use of long-lasting insecticidal nets remains the goal for all people at risk of malaria.

In endemic areas with intense malaria transmission (stable malaria), all infants at their first immunization and all pregnant women as early as possible in pregnancy should receive one long-lasting insecticidal net through immunization and antenatal care visits.


This is a summary of WHO recommendations. The full set of recommendations can be found in the guidance documents, under ‘WHO documents’ below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

15 June 2017 11:05 CEST

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global nutrition targets

Target 1: 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted

Target 3: 30% reduction in low birth weight

Target 6: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%