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J Obstet Gynaecol. 2006 Jul;26(5):414-7.

Eclampsia: ten-years of experience in a rural tertiary hospital in the Niger delta, Nigeria.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Baptist Medical Centre, Eku, Delta State, Nigeria.


Eclampsia is a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality in developing countries including Nigeria. However, most studies on eclampsia have been in urban communities. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence, pattern of clinical presentation and maternal and fetal outcomes of cases of eclampsia in a rural tertiary hospital in Nigeria. A descriptive review of all cases of eclampsia seen between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 2003 in a tertiary hospital was undertaken. The incidence of eclampsia was 1 in 43 deliveries (2.3%). Most of the women (86.2%) were unbooked for antenatal care in our centre; 58.5% were nullipara, and the onset of seizures was in the ante-partum period (68.3%). Patients presenting were mostly from the traditional birth attendants (46.3%). The time interval between the onset of convulsions and hospital admission was less than 12 h in 52% of cases. The majority of the women had premonitory symptoms (78.8%) with headache being the most frequent (78%). The major route of delivery was abdominal (66.7%). The case fatality rate was 15.4%. Most of the deaths (89.5%) were in unbooked women and the most common causes of death were acute renal failure, cardiopulmonary failure, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy and cerebrovascular accident. The perinatal mortality rate was 195 per 1000 births. This study found a high incidence of eclampsia. It is recommended that community-based health education programmes should be pursued with vigour to enhance early utilisation of modern antenatal care services in rural areas. Traditional birth attendants need to be trained and integrated into the healthcare team. Appropriate mechanisms should be put in place to improve clinic referrals. The capacity of tertiary health institutions to provide intensive care for eclamptics need to be improved with continuous training of heathcare personnel and provision of necessary equipment.

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