• 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.