• Hypocalcaemia and calcium intake in pregnancy: A research protocol for critical analysis of risk factors, maternofoetal outcomes and evaluation of diagnostic methods in a third-category health facility, Cameroon

      Ajong, AB; Kenfack, B; Ali, IM; Yakum, MN; Aljerf, L; Telefo, PB (Public Library of Sciences, 2020-11-05)
      Introduction Hypocalcaemia in pregnancy remains a major health issue, particularly in the developing world where daily calcium intakes are suboptimal. This electrolyte imbalance can lead to severe maternofoetal and childhood consequences. Calcium supplementation, amongst others, contributes significantly to meeting calcium demands in pregnancy. With ionised calcaemia as the gold standard for diagnosis, total calcaemia and albumin-corrected calcaemia in other pathological states have been found to overestimate the burden of hypocalcaemia. The main objectives of this study are to describe the blood calcium level (total, albumin corrected, and ionised calcaemia) and associated maternofoetal outcomes while identifying determinants of calcium supplementation and ionised hypocalcaemia. This study will also evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of albumin corrected calcaemia as a diagnostic tool for hypocalcaemia (ionised calcaemia as the gold standard) among pregnant women in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital, Cameroon. Methods Our study will target a total of 1067 term pregnant women who shall be included consecutively into the study as they arrive the maternity of the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital for their last antenatal care visit. Data shall be collected using a semi-structured interview-administered questionnaire and blood samples collected for total plasma calcium, albumin and serum ionized calcium assays. Additional data will be collected at birth (maternal and foetal variables; foetal outcomes evaluated as secondary outcomes). Total calcaemia and albuminemia shall be measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry, while ionised calcaemia will be measured by ion-selective electrode potentiometry(using MSLEA15-H electrolyte analyzer) per standard BIOLABO and MSLEA15 protocols, respectively. Data will be analysed using the statistical softwares epi-Info version 7.2.2.16 and STATA version 16. Expected research outcome This study will present a more precise estimate of the burden of hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy as well as identify and analyse the different factors associated with calcium supplementation and ionised hypocalcaemia among term pregnant women in a developing world setting. Maternofoetal outcomes associated with hypocalcaemia will be determined as well as the sensitivity and specificity of total and albumin-corrected calcaemia in diagnosing hypocalcaemia. Our findings will contribute significantly to designing or strengthening interventions to control this electrolyte imbalance.
    • Knowledge of peri-menarcheal changes and a comparative analysis of the age at menarche among young adolescent school girls in urban and rural Cameroon

      Ajong, AB; Tankala, NN; Yakum, MN; Azenoi, IS; Kenfack, B (BMC, 2020-11-04)
      Background Menarche is an expected event that occurs during the development of every normal young girl. We designed this study to evaluate the knowledge of young school girls on puberty, menarche, and menstruation, and to update data on the age at menarche in a rural and urban setting in Cameroon. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey from February to March 2017, targeting female students aged 9 to 16 years in Yaoundé (urban) and Bamougoum (rural). Participants were included using a randomised cluster sampling and data collected using an auto-administrable questionnaire. Student t-test or the Kruskal-Wallis test was used to compare means, and the odds ratio used as the measure of association between age at menarche and selected covariates. Results 1157 participants were included in the study; 49.3% from an urban setting and 50.7% from a rural setting. Regarding the knowledge of our participants on puberty, menarche, and menstruation, 67.20% of rural participants had good knowledge, whereas only 46.00% had good knowledge in the urban setting. Mean age at menarche was 12.76 ± 1.33 years, with the mean age at menarche in the urban setting of 12.48 ± 1.12 years and the rural setting of 13.03 ± 1.46 years. Mean age at menarche was significantly lower in participants aged below 14 years (p-value = 0.000), those with both parents alive (p-value = 0.0461), those whose fathers had skilled occupations (p-value = 0.005), those of urban resident (p-value = 0.000), and those who watched TV everyday (p-value = 0.030). Urban residence and age below 14 years were significantly associated with an earlier onset of menarche. Conclusion Rural participants had better knowledge of puberty, menarche, and the menstrual cycle than their counterparts in the urban setting. The mean age at menarche over the last two decades has dropped by 7.4 and 4.2 months per decade in urban and rural Cameroon respectively. Mean age at menarche varies significantly with age group, urban/rural residence, state of both parents (both alive/at least one dead), occupation of the father, and frequency of watching TV. Age and urban/rural residence are associated with age at onset of menarche. The continually declining age at menarche is an alarm for future early menarche-linked morbidities.
    • Prevalence and correlates of low serum calcium in late pregnancy: A cross sectional study in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital; Littoral Region of Cameroon

      Ajong, AB; Kenfack, B; Ali, IM; Yakum, MN; Telefo, PB (Public Library of Science, 2019-11-07)
      Introduction Women from low and middle income countries are generally more likely to have sub-optimal calcium intake. The objective of this study was to assess serum calcium disorders and correlates in late pregnancy. Methods We conducted from December 2018 to April 2019, a cross-sectional hospital-based study targeting pregnant women in late pregnancy in the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. Data were collected by measurement of parameters (weight, height, blood pressure and foetal birthweight), administration of a semi-structured questionnaire and analysis of blood samples collected from each participant. Absorption spectrophotometry was used to measure serum calcium and albumin concentrations and corrected serum calcium calculated from the Payne’s equation. With a statistical significant threshold set at p-value = 0.05, the odds ratio was used as a measure of the strength of association between hypocalcaemia and maternofoetal variables. Results We enrolled a total of 354 consenting participants with a mean age of 27.41±5.84 years. The prevalence of hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy was 58.76 [53.42–63.90]%. The rate of calcium supplementation in pregnancy was 57.63[52.28–62.80]% with a mean duration of supplementation of 3.69±1.47 months. When controlled for marital status, age, level of education, and gestational age at delivery, pregnant women with systolic blood pressures below 130 mmHg were significantly less likely to have hypocalcaemia than their counterparts with higher systolic blood pressures (Adjusted Odds Ratio = 0.41[0.18–0.89], p-value = 0.020). No statistically significant associations were found between diastolic blood pressure, body mass index, foetal birth weight and hypocalcaemia. Conclusion Hypocalcaemia in late pregnancy is highly prevalent (59%) among women accessing reproductive services at the Nkongsamba Regional Hospital. There is also a wide gap in calcium supplementation compared to World Health Organization recommendations. Hypocalcaemia is significantly associated to higher systolic blood pressure in pregnancy. Systematic calcium supplementation and consumption of high calcium containing locally available meals should be encouraged.