Prevalence of anemia in women with asymptomatic malaria parasitemia at first antenatal care visit at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria
TU Agan1, JE Ekabua1, AE Udoh1, EI Ekanem1, EE Efiok1, MA Mgbekem2
1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2Department of Nursing, College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Nigeria
Background: Anemia in pregnancy in malaria endemic areas is a public health challenge that has contributed either directly or indirectly to maternal morbidity and mortality in our environment. Anemia and malaria during pregnancy are highly preventable and treatable.
Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of anemia in asymptomatic malaria parasitemic women at first antenatal visit in a tertiary hospital facility.
Method: The study was conducted at the antenatal clinic of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria over a three-month period. Five hundred and forty-five pregnant women were recruited after obtaining an informed consent. A structured questionnaire was administered to each participant and two thin and thick blood films were used to identify the malaria parasites and estimate density. The average of two packed cell volumes at booking was determined using two capillary tubes and read from a Hawksleys microhematocrit reader.
Results: A total of 545 pregnant women participated in the study. The mean ages of primigravidas and multigravidas were 21.4 ± 3.1 and 24.3 ± 4.0 years. Two hundred and ninety (53.2%) were primigravidas while 255 (46.8%) were multigravidas. The parasite density in primigravidas was 1297 ± 1234 while that for multigravidas was 661 ± 497 (t = 7.7, P < 0.001). The prevalence of anemia in the study population was 59.6%. There was no statistically significant difference in the prevalence of anemia among the primigravidas (60.3%) and the multigravidas (58.8%) (χ2 = 1.3, P = 0.08). There was a statistically significant association between severity of parasitemia and degree of anemia (χ2 = 441.1, P < 0.001). There was a statistically significant association between antimalarials use before booking and severity of parasitemia (χ2 = 36.52, P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Anemia at first antenatal booking was significantly associated with malaria parasitemia. Routine screening for anemia and malaria parasites at booking, prompt parasite clearance, use of intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) during pregnancy and correction of anemia can reduce the prevalence of malaria related anemia and obstetric complications associated with it.
Keywords: anemia, malaria, pregnancy, first antenatal booking