Pre-marriage counseling as a tool for sickle cell disease awareness in Nigerians

  • Clement C Ezechukwu Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria
  • John O Chukwuka Department of Paediatrics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Nigeria
Keywords: Sickle cell disease, Pre-marriage counseling

Abstract

To assess the effect of pre-marriage counseling as a tool for sickle cell disease awareness.

A structured questionnaire was used to obtain information from 207 mothers attending the infant welfare and antenatal clinics of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi on knowledge of the existence of sickle cell disease, church attended, attendance at marriage counseling sessions, knowledge of own and husband's genotype before marriage.

The study population 34.3% of the mothers where between the ages of 26 and 30 years, while 60.4% of the mothers had secondary education. One hundred and fifteen or 55.5% had knowledge of their genotype and that of their husbands. While 23.7% and 13.5% of them knew their genotypes before courtship and during courtship respectively 34.3% knew theirs before wedding and only 7.2% knew after wedding.

Members of the Roman Catholic faith constituted 48.8% of the study population with 68.1% of the study population having attended a pre-marriage course before wedding. Ninety two or 65.2% of the respondents attended a sickle cell counseling session during the course. Sickle cell screening was a pre-condition for wedding in 58.8% of the respondents.

This practice of the churches introducing sickle cell trait screening and genetic counseling before marriage needs to be encouraged and strengthened by introducing sickle cell trait screening and genetic counseling in schools in order to cover a wider population and reduce the prevalence of the disease in the society.

Key Words: Sickle cell disease, Pre-marriage counseling.

Sahel Medical Journal Vol.7(2) 2004: 54-57
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