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Self-Medication: potential risks and hazards among pregnant women in Uyo, Nigeria

Festus Abasiubong
Emem Abasi Bassey
John Akpan Udobang
Oluyinka Samuel Akinbami
Sunday Bassey Udoh
Alphonsus Udo Idung


Introduction: There is increasing evidence that self-medications among pregnant women are common in many developing countries. Despite the adverse impact on pregnancy, there are few programs available for their control. The objective of this study was to assess the level of self-medication amongst Nigerian pregnant women in order to determine possible harmful effects on fetus. Methods: Five hundred and eighteen 518 pregnant women, aged between 18 and 40 years, drawn from three General hospitals in Akwa Ibom State were assessed for self-medication and substance abuse using an instrument, adapted from a modified form of 117-item self-report questionnaire based on the WHO guidelines for students’ substance use survey. Results: Of the 518 pregnant women assessed, 375 (72.4%) indulged in one form of self-medication or the other; 143 (27.6%) used only drugs prescribed from the antenatal clinic. A total of 157 (41.9%) pregnant women self-medicate fever/pain relievers; 47 (9.1%) mixture of herbs and other drugs; 15 (4.0%) sedatives; 13 (3.5%) alcohol; while 5 (1.3%) used kolanuts. Reasons for using these substances range from protection from witches and witchcrafts, preventing pregnancy from coming out, for blood; poor sleep, fever and vomiting and infections. There was a significant difference in the rate of using analgesics (X2=9.43, p=0.001); and antibiotic (X2=4.43, p=0.001) among pregnant women who were highly educated compared to those with little or no education. However, the level of education has no impact in the usage of native herbs. Conclusion: This study shows that self-medication is common among pregnant women in our environment. There is need for adequate education of pregnant women during antenatal clinics on the potential danger of self-medication so as to prevent child and maternal morbidity and mortality.

Pan African Medical Journal 2012; 13:15

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eISSN: 1937-8688