Tropical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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Birth asphyxia in a mission hospital in Benin City, Nigeria

Alphonsus N Onyiriuka


Background: Birth asphyxia is a leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria. Survivors have increased risk of long-term neurologic disability.

Objective: To determine the incidence and document the predisposing factors and outcome.

Methods: In this descriptive (cross-sectional) study at St Philomena Catholic Hospital, the one-and-five-minute Apgar scores of 2,208 live-births were recorded. Those with low Apgar scores (6 at one minute) were studied and their data analyzed.

Results: Birth asphyxia occurred in 83.8 per 1000 live-births with preterm and post-term deliveries, primiparity, grandmultiparity, maternal age 19 years or 40 years and pregnancy-induced hypertension being the associated significant factors. Severe birth asphyxia was commonest in breech deliveries. Post-asphyxial seizures occurred in 11.9% of asphyxiated infants with 86.4% of these seizures occurring within the first 12 hours after birth. Birth asphyxia accounted for 25.9% of total neonatal deaths with 58.7% of these deaths occurring within the first 24 hours after birth. The rates of both severe birth asphyxia and deaths were higher in male that female neonates.

Conclusion: Disease-specific burden of birth asphyxia remains enormous and will be alleviated if careful attention is paid to management of labour of high-risk expectant mothers, coupled with availability of personnel skilled in neonatal resuscitation at these deliveries.

Keywords: birth asphyxia, incidence, outcome

Tropical Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Vol. 23(1) 2006: 34-39
AJOL African Journals Online