International Journal of Medicine and Health Development

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Use of substance and non-prescription drugs by pregnant Nigerian Women

John E.N. Okonkwo, R Uwakwe


Objective: To evaluate the problems of alcohol, other substance and non- prescription drugs use during pregnancy.

Methods: The study was carried out at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria. Participants who were recruited during the study period, consisted of 1160 alternate pregnant patients who registered at the antenatal clinic from January 1999 to December 2001. They were administered the psychoactive substance screener section of the ICD – 10 symptom checklist (WHO, 1994); the self-reporting questionnaire (SRQ – 24 Harding et al, 1980) and the health questionnaire (Sheila Blume, 1996).

Results: Thirty percent of the women admitted to use of non- prescription drugs. Vitamins were the most commonly abused (41.4%) followed by analgesics (33.4%), kola nuts (25.7%), laxatives (10.6%), and antacids (8.9%) Alcohol was consumed by 43.7%. Whereas 16.7% found alcohol not helpful in feeling better or relaxed when they are depressed or nervous, 27.1% found it helpful. The incidence of drinking alcohol was higher (50%) among the 35 and above year age group, followed by the 30-34 year age group with 37.5%. Only 2.9% admitted to using tobacco.

Conclusion: Alcohol consumption in pregnancy appears to be higher in the older pregnant Nigerians. The implications of use in early pregnancy and during labour are highlighted.

Key Words: Non-prescription drugs, Substance use, Pregnant Women, Nigeria

(J College Med: 2003 8(1): 23-26)

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