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Title: Heavy metals and parasitic geohelminths exposure among geophagous pregnant women in Nakuru Municipality
Authors: Odongo, Alfred Owino
Keywords: Heavy metals -- Parasitic Geohelminths Exposure -- Geophagous Pregnant Women
Issue Date: Feb-2015
Publisher: Egerton University
Abstract: Geophagia is defined as deliberate consumption of earths’ materials e.g. soil, clay and soft stones. The practice is widespread among pregnant women and there are conflicting views as to whether it is beneficial to health or not. Geophagic materials may be a source of micronutrients though the materials may bind the micronutrients thus reducing or hindering their bioavailability in the body. Geophagia is closely associated with geohelminthic infections among pregnant women and heavy metal poisoning which constitute significant public health problem in many developing countries like Kenya. The main objective of this study was to determine whether pregnant women practicing geophagia in Nakuru Municipality are exposed to heavy metals and parasitic geohelminths. The research design was descriptive cross sectional study whereas data was collected using structured questionnaire, laboratory analysis and observations. A total of 431 pregnant women in different trimesters of pregnancy were interviewed and 38 geophagic materials analysed. The study sites comprised of level 2 and 3 Nakuru municipal health facilities. Demographic survey was conducted in the month of January to April 2014. The geophagic materials were subjected to standard digestion procedures and analyzed for Zinc, Lead and Iron by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). Analysis results showed that geophagic materials contained elevated levels of Fe at mean concentration value of 80.10ppm, Pb 3.28ppm and Zn1.81ppm for a 1.00 g sample. An average of 20grams of the geophagic material was consumed per day. The pregnant women were exposed to 65.52ppmPb per day .This exceeded the WHO lead exposure limits of 25ppm/day for pregnant women. The materials were also subjected to microscopic examination for Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, Taenia Spp, Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. Analysis showed that the geophagic materials contained no observable eggs, larvae or adult species of the geohelminths. Both point and period prevalence rates of geophagia were determined to be 35 and 58 per 100 pregnant mothers respectively. In conclusion, there was relatively high point prevalence rate of geophagia, the women were exposed to heavy metals-Iron, Zinc and Lead but there was no exposure to geohelminths. There is need to integrate public health education on geophagia, lead screening and testing with antenatal support care systems. This will enhance maternal and child health thus reducing infant and maternal morbidity and mortality rates.
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Science

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