Factors associated with major structural birth defects among newborns delivered at Muhimbili National Hospital and Municipal Hospitals in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania 2011 – 2012
Introduction: ninety-four percent of all birth defects and 95% of deaths due to the birth defects occur in low and middle income countries,
Tanzania among them. In Tanzania there are currently limited birth defects prevention strategies in place due to limited information on factors
associated with the occurrence of birth defects.
Methods: we conducted a case control study that included newborns born from October, 2011
through February, 2012 at 4 participating hospitals. A case was defined as any newborn of a Dar es salaam resident with a neural tube defect,
orofacial clefts, limb reduction defects or musculo-skeletal defects (SBD) born during the study period. A control was defined as the next three
newborns (delivered after the case) without birth defects. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate analysis were done using Epi Info version 3.5.1.
Results: a total of 400 newborns participated in the study, 100 cases and 300 controls. Factors associated with higher odds of a SBD included
maternal fever (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.99; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14-3.52), maternal hypertension (AOR=3.99; 95% CI: 1.67-
9.54), and low birth weight (AOR=3.48; 95% CI: 1.77-6.85). Antimalarial use during pregnancy was protective (AOR=0.48; 95% CI: 0.28-0.84).
Folic acid supplementation was protective only in bivariate analysis (OR=0.56; 95% CI: 0.32-0.96).
Conclusion: maternal fever, hypertension, and low birth weight are associated with higher odds of SBD. Antimalarial use during pregnancy was associated with lower odds of SBD. Early screening of pregnant mothers for hypertension and other causes of low birth weight may reduce SBD in Dar Es Salaam.