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BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2017 Mar 14;17(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1272-1.

Prodromal symptoms, health care seeking in response to symptoms and associated factors in eclamptic patients.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Karamara General Hospital/Jigjiga University, P.O.Box: 238, Jigjiga, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia.



Eclampsia is one of the leading causes of maternal death worldwide. Maternal catastrophe is made worse in developing countries by the high incidence coupled with delayed presentation of patients and health facility constraints in effective management of eclampsia and its complications.


A prospective study of all 93 eclamptic women admitted to a general hospital in Somali regional state, Ethiopia was conducted between May 1, 2014 and April 30, 2015 using a structured questionnaire which included socio-demographic data, antenatal visit status, distance of nearest maternal health facility, timing of convulsions, questions related to symptoms preceding seizures; health care seeking for the symptoms and time interval from prodromal symptoms to the diagnosis of eclampsia. Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted. Statistical tests were done at a level of significance of P < 0.05.


There were 93 cases of eclampsia among 3500 deliveries with an incidence of 2.7%. The timing of Eclampsia was antepartum in 57 (61.3%); intrapartum in 26 (28.0%) and postpartum in 10 (10.7%). Most (63%) were not having any antenatal care (ANC) follow up. Precedent symptoms were reported in 73 (79.0%) of the mothers with severe head ache in 70 (75.0%); visual disturbance in 44 (47%) and epigastric pain in 17 (18.0%). The frequency of symptoms was not influenced by the timing of eclampsia and degree of hypertension and prodromal symptoms were reported in 80% of the patients with severe hypertension. The mean duration of prodromal symptoms before patients were diagnosed with eclampsia was 5.5 days. Only 19/73 (26.0%) of the patients with prodromal symptoms visited a health facility for their complaints prior to developing eclampsia. The diagnosis of hypertensive disorder of pregnancy was made in 8 (42.0%) of these patients. Independent predictors of failure to seek health care in response to preceding symptoms were: rural residence (p-value < 0.001) and distance of maternal health facility of > 5km (p-value < 0.01).


Precedent symptoms were reported in most women. But many patients present late in response to these warning signs of eclampsia. Improving awareness of prodromal symptoms of eclampsia and timely health care seeking; providing ANC advises on danger signs of eclampsia in the socio-cultural context of the community; ensuring access to ANC services for rural mothers, and administration of anticonvulsants for all women with prodromal symptoms are recommended.


Eclampsia; Factors affecting; Health care seeking; Precedent symptoms; Prodromal

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