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African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development

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Congenital malformations among newborns in Kenya

R Muga, SCJ Mumah, PA Juma

Abstract


Available literature suggests that congenital malformations are a major cause of prenatal infant deaths and postnatal physical defects [1, 2]. Therefore, a study was conducted to determine the patterns and incidence of congenital malformations at birth in newborns in Kenya and thereby analyze associated predisposing factors in their mothers. This single cross-sectional survey adopted the quasi-experimental study design to investigate a total of 7,355 consecutive births at the maternity unit of
Kenyatta National Referral Hospital over a period of uninterrupted 12 months beginning 8th September to 7th September of the following year. Data collection involved clinical examination of the malformed newborns for final diagnosis using a standard proforma. The study included a control group of new born babies selected systematically among babies who were born during the same study period but had no recognizable defects at birth (n=210). These included normal babies delivered immediately after the malformed newborns. The experimental group comprised the malformed babies (n=207). Mothers were also interviewed for demographic
information and data on life style and behavioral risk factors. In this paper only the results of the experimental group are described. A total of 207 malformations were documented. Results showed overall incidence of externally discernible malformations of 28.1 per 1000 total births (28.1/1000). The incidence of major malformations was 15/1000 births. Malformations of musculoskeletal system were the most frequently observed, accounting for 33.9% of all the major malformations,
followed by malformations of the central nervous system (28.6%). Polydactyl was the most common single malformation with an incidence of 10/1000 total births. Neural tube defects (with an overall incidence of 4.6/1000 births) and chromosomal disorders were also common. On the overall, congenital malformations occurred in proportions that were comparable to other findings in Africa and other parts of the world. These
findings highlight the need for stepping up nutritional prevention efforts, for instance, folic acid supplements; strengthening surveillance to monitor trends; and the establishment of a genetic centre in Kenya in order to strengthen local capacity for chromosomal studies, prenatal diagnosis, and genetic counseling on these complex issues.



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