Helminthiasis in pregnancy in the Niger - Delta Region of Nigeria
Background: Helminthic infestations during pregnancy have significant public health implications. This study seeks to determine the prevalence of intestinal helminths among pregnant women in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria and to identify possible predisposing factors.
Methods: Pregnant women attending antenatal clinics were randomly selected in 6 health facilities. Stool and blood samples were collected from each woman. The stool sample was examined for ova and cyst of parasites while blood samples were analyzed for eosinophil count and packed cell volume. Proforma designed for the purpose was used to obtain sociodemographic information. Students t-test was used to test relationship between variables with a p value <0.05 considered statistically significant.
Results: The mean age of the patients was 27.9±5.2 years and the mean gestational age was 27.635±.4 weeks. The overall prevalence of helminthiasis in pregnancy was 91 (22. 7%), with Ascaris lumbricoides and hookworm being the most predominant at 9. 7% and 8.2% respectively. The highest prevalence per health facility was in Emohua, a rural community with a prevalence of 48.5% and the least was at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital with a prevalence of 17.8%. There were significant association of helminthiasis with eosinophilia, anaemia, clay (nzu) eating, socioeconomic class, and source of water.
Conclusion: The prevalence of helminthiasis in pregnancy is high in the Niger delta region. It is associated with the lower socioeconomic class. Introduction of routine stool analysis and use of antihelminthic in pregnancy will help to reduce associated morbidity from intestinal helminth.
Keywords: Helminthiasis; Pregnancy; Eosinophil Count; Anaemia; Nigeria
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