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Soil-Transmitted Helminthic Infections and Geophagia among Pregnant Women in Jimma Town Health Institutions, Southwest Ethiopia

Mestawet Getachew
Ruth Yeshigeta
Abebaw Tiruneh
Yonas Alemu
Eden Dereje
Zeleke Mekonnen


BACKGROUND፡ Pregnancy is a key step for human’s reproduction and continuity of generation. Pregnant women are among at risk groups for the infection of soil-transmitted helminths (STHs). STHs are highly prevalent in low- and middleincome countries due to the deprived environmental sanitation
and personal hygiene. Eating soil (geophagia) is also commonly practiced by pregnant women, particularly in developing countries. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of STHs and geophagia, and to assess associated factors among pregnant women in Jimma, Southwest Ethiopia.
METHODS: A cross sectional study was conducted among 407 pregnant women attending antenatal care (ANC) at different health facilities located in Jimma Town. Data related to sociodemographic and geophagia practice was collected using a structured questionnaire and STH infections status was determined by using McMaster technique.
RESULTS: A total of 407 pregnant women were included in this study. The overall prevalence of any STHs was 19.7% (80/407). Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent 45(56.2%), followed by Trichuris trichiura 19(23.8%) and hookworms 12(15%). There were 4(5%) of double infection with A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura. Overall, 71 (17.4%) of the pregnant women responded to practice geophagia. STHs infection was significantly higher among geophagic pregnant women (p<0.01) and pregnant women who practiced geophagia were 3 times more likely (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.3-4.2) to have the STHs compared to non-geophagic. Out of those who claimed soil eating habits, 59.1% preferred reddish soil type. Geophagia practice was significantly higher during the third trimester as compared to first and second (p<0.05).
CONCLUSION: Geophagia is a risky behavior and this study showed a significant association of geophagia practice with STH infections, although the causal relation could not be established.