Traditional religious beliefs fuel complications of preeclampsia, gynecologists warn

Health experts have warned that traditional and religious beliefs are fueling the complications of preeclampsia, noting that managing the condition should now be seen as crucial to curbing the rising incidence of maternal mortality.

According to health experts, preeclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal death in Nigeria, adding that the complications of this condition are fueled by women’s adherence to religious and traditional beliefs.

Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth.

Preeclampsia occurs when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, protein in her urine, and swelling in the legs, feet, and hands.

Preeclampsia, experts say, can lead to eclampsia, a serious condition that can lead to serious health complications and, in rare cases, death to the pregnant woman and even the baby.

According to a World Health Organization report, released in 2019, the estimated maternal mortality rate in Nigeria was over 800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

“In comparison, the total number of maternal deaths in 2015 in the 46 most developed countries was 1700, which translates to a maternal mortality rate of 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births,” the WHO said.

The report further states that a Nigerian woman has a one in 22 chance of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/postabortion; while in the most developed countries the lifetime risk is 1 in 4,900.

Talk with PUNCH HealthWise, Health experts have said that the observance of traditional and religious beliefs by pregnant women is one of the reasons why the incidence of maternal mortality remains high in the country.

They stressed that antenatal care and early diagnosis are crucial for early detection and proper management of preeclampsia, noting that it is a condition that can be managed if detected in time. .

The experts, who are gynecologists, Babagana Bako, Professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Maiduguri; and a resident physician in gynecology and obstetrics, Dr Samuel Ilikannu, in separate interviews with our correspondent, noted that this condition can also be managed with medication.

Bako, who is also head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Maiduguri, said the cure for preeclampsia is immediate delivery.

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Ruth R. Culp