Knowledge of sickle cell disease among parturiant mothers in Benin City and their attitude to newborn screening.
BACKGROUND; Sickle cell disease is the commonest genetic disorder of the black race. A high prevalence of the disease has been established. The disease is associated with a high level of mortality. However, it is yet to be established the knowledge and attitude of the mothers’ in this community to SCD and to ascertain the attitude of mothers to the screening of their healthy newborns.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the maternal knowledge of SCD and its mode of inheritance, to assess the mothers’ knowledge of her phenotype status and that of her partner and to determine the willingness of the mothers to accept screening for theirhealthy infants.
METHODS: All consecutively newly delivered mothers who attended St Philomena’s Hospital Benin City, Nigeria were recruited into this study. They were assessed using a pretested questionnaire a sample of which will be shown in the text.
RESULTS: Six hundred and twenty two (622) mothers were interviewed. Of these, 608 (97.7%) had heard of children popularly referred to as “sicklers” while 14 (2.3%) had not heard of children with such disease. Of the 608 mothers who had heard of the disease, only 213 (35%) could adequately describe the common features of the disease, 334 (55%) mothers thought they were normal and healthy children, while the remaining 61 (10%) mothers said they had no idea what children with SCD looked like. Of the 608 mothers who had heard of the disease, 369 (60.7%) did not know how it was acquired, 97 (16%) thought the disease ran in some families, while 142 (23.3%) appreciated that the disease
was inherited by the children when both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene. Four hundred and thirty five (69.9%) of the mothers studied did not know their haemoglobin phenotype status. Four hundred and three (92.6%) of these did not know that of their partner either. Of the one hundred and eighty seven (30.1%) mothers knew their phenotypes, 129(20.7%) were AA, 55 (8.8%) were AS, 1(0.2%) was AC, while 2 (0.4%) had SCD; 1 SS, 1 SC). In 76.8% of the mothers studied, the haemoglobin phenotype status of the fathers was equally not known.
CONCLUSION: Despite the high prevalence of SCD in our community, mother are still largely unaware of the disease and its mode of inheritance. The implication of this is that for affected children, the need to check for the disease usually arises when they develop a crisis complication of the disease.
Keywords: Mothers’ knowledge, Attitude, Sickle cell disease, Newborn screening.