A communitybased surveillance of gastrointestinal helminthiasis among pregnant women in Ibadan, South West Nigeria
Background: Intestinal helminthiasis is a major public health problem in Africa. Helminthic infection in pregnant women causes loss of appetite, poor nutrient absorption, gastrointestinal impairment, iron deficiency, and iron deficiency anemia resulting in low birth weights and preterm births. The main aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of helminthic infections in pregnant women in rural and peri‑urban communities of Ibadan.
Materials and Methods: A cross‑sectional descriptive study was carried out at the antenatal clinics of 12 selected primary health centers and mission homes in Ibadan, Nigeria. Open‑ and closed‑answer questionnaires were administered to 604 consenting pregnant women, who provided fresh stool samples for microscopy. Helminthic quantification was carried out by the Kato‑Katz technique. Proportions were compared using Chi‑squared with IBM® SPSS® Statistics 21 for analysis. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
Results: Eighty‑nine stool samples (14.7%) were positive for helminthiasis. Most had roundworms (13.6%); 13 (2.2%) had hookworms. The mean arithmetic eggs per gram of feces were 2,124 and 248, respectively. No participant had a heavy intensity infection; nearly all were of low intensity. Participants (P = 0.005) and their husbands (P = 0.005) who had higher education were less likely to have helminthiasis.
Conclusion: These communities are classified as Category III, having a low prevalence and low intensity infection. Therefore, prophylactic anti‑helminthic treatment in pregnancy is not recommended. The inverse relationship with education may be a function of better living conditions. Better hygiene should be advocated.
Keywords: Helminthiasis, Ibadan, Nigeria, pregnancy