JOURNAL ARTICLE
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PATTERNS OF NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS AT TWO TEACHING HOSPITALS IN ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA A THREE YEARS RETROSPECTIVE STUDY.

BACKGROUND: Neural tube defects (NTDs), one of the most common congenital malformations, are potentially preventable cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality.

OBJECTIVES: To give baseline description of NTDs and their outcome at two teaching hospitals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective cross sectional descriptive study conducted from September 2009 to August 2012.

RESULTS: During the study period out of 28,961 deliveries 177 cases of NTDs were identified, giving an overall NTD prevalence of 6.1/1000. Only 12% (21/177) were diagnosed before 28 weeks of gestation. The mean gestational age at diagnosis of NTDs was 33.8 weeks (±5.5). Majority, 93.2% (165/177), had antenatal care (ANC) follow-up. Most, 72% (127/177), were diagnosed by ultrasound before delivery while 28% (50/177) were identified at the time of delivery or expulsion. Majority, 85.3% (151/177), never received folic acid supplementation. Only less than 1% (2/177) of the mothers started taking folic acid supplementation pre-conceptionally. Only a third, 33.3% (59/177), of the fetuses were born alive while only 13.6% (24/177) were discharged alive. Myelomeningocele, identified in 51.4% (91/177), was the commonest NTD in this study.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS: The proportion of NTDs in this study is among the highest globally reported rates. The practice of periconceptional folic acid supplementation is negligible. And although most had ANC follow-up the vast majority of NTDs were diagnosed late in the third trimester. It is, therefore, highly recommended to consider implementing national preventive strategies to reduce the prevalence of NTDs in Ethiopia.

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