Traditional religious beliefs fuel complications of preeclampsia, warn gynecologists

Health experts have warned that traditional and religious beliefs fuel the complications of preeclampsia, noting that managing the condition should now be seen as crucial in 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 in pregnancy or childbirth.

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

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

According to a report by the World Health Organization, 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 1,700, which corresponds to a maternal mortality rate of 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births,” the WHO said.

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

Talk with PUNCHHealth, health experts have said that adherence to traditional and religious beliefs of pregnant women is one of the reasons the incidence of maternal mortality remains high in the country.

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

The experts, who are gynecologists, Babagana Bako, professor of maternal-fetal medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maiduguri University; and a resident doctor 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 obstetrics and gynecology department at Maiduguri University, said the cure for preeclampsia is immediate delivery.

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