Malawi Medical Journal

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Evaluation of Impact of Perinatal Factors on Time to First Meconium Passage in Nigerian Neonates

Uchechukwu Obiora Ezomike


Delayed meconium passage is usually a signal to congenital distal bowel dysfunction. Timing of meconium passage may vary depending on race, sex and several perinatal factors. Understanding the timing and associated perinatal factors in any given population will help in prompt diagnosis and adequate management of cases in that population.
Objectives: To determine the timing of first meconium passage amongst Nigerian neonates, and evaluate the impact of various associated perinatal factors.
Materials and Methods
A cross-sectional study using interviewer-administered questionnaires to obtain data from mothers of apparently normal infants attending the postnatal clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria. Data acquisition and analysis were done using SPSS version 20. A P-value of < 0.05 was adjudged statistically significant.
There were 276 male and 277 female infants. Mean birth weight was 3.4kg and mean gestational age at delivery 38.8weeks. The median age at presentation was 42days. Preterm deliveries were in 6.3%(32/510) and 3.7%(20/536) weighed less than 2.5kg at birth. Sixty-five percent (339/519) had spontaneous vertex delivery and 35%(180/519) had caesarean delivery. Passage of first meconium was within 24hours in 56.6%(307/543) and in 48hours 91.3%(496/543) had passed meconium. Fifty-four percent (54%, 288/537) commenced breastfeeding within 24hours and 85% (n=456/537) within 48hours. Exclusive breastfeeding was done in 61.5%(326/533) of subjects. Timing of first meconium passage was significantly affected by gestational age at delivery (p<0.001), mode of delivery (p<0.01), birth weight (p=0.02), first minute APGAR score (p<0.001), timing of commencement of breastfeeding (p<0.001) and feeding before breastfeeding is commenced (p = 0.02).
Compared to other studies, we found smaller proportion of neonates passing meconium in the first 24 hours. Term neonates, birth weight ≥ 2.5kg, spontaneous vertex delivery, high Apgar score, commencement of breastfeeding within 24 hours of birth, feeding before breastfeeding is commenced, are perinatal factors associated with earlier first meconium passage.
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