Assessment of Lead Content in Medicinal Clay Soil Preparations and Geophagia in Pregnant Women Attending Antenatal Clinic at Kawempe National Referral Hospital, Kampala- Uganda
Asiomizu, Linda Faith
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Geophagia is the deliberate consumption of earth, soil and clay deposits by animals, including man. It is postulated that geophagy in pregnancy is due to cultural influences, and gastrointestinal upsets and micronutrient deficiencies. During gestation, exc essive amounts of various soil types are consumed and can replace food at times. Soil can get contaminated by lead through various routes such as lead based paints, lead from car exhausts, from industries that manufacture items from lead. Health risks asso ciated with geophagic behavior include parasitosis, heavy metal poisoning, nutrient deficiencies, and poor birth outcomes. There is no safe blood lead concentration; even levels of below 10 ug/dl are known to impair neurological development yet no national guidelines exist on geophagy. It is imperative to enquire whether pregnant women are geophagous and discourage geophagy. This study investigated the levels of lead in the clay soils consumed by the pregnant women, possible risk of exposure to lead from the clay soils and the sociodemographic risk factors associated with geophagia in Pregnant Women. The clay soils were obtai ned from different markets surrounding the Kawempe National Referral Hospital and those selected were Bwaise, Lugoba, Katooke, Namugoona and Kasubi markets as they serve as the most common places where the Women buy the soils from, they are locally referre d to as Mumbwa and Bumba. The soils were analyzed for lead using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS). Information from the pregnant women about clay soil consumption was obtained using questionnaires and analyzed using SPSS (version 25.0). Results of the study show that 110 women (74%) practice geophagia and only 38 Women (26%) did not. The study provides multiple important observations. Among the demographic factors, religion is not associated with geophagia in pregnancy. Secondly, education status d oes not influence geophagia. Thirdly, household size does not influence geophagia. Fifth, age group is not associated with geophagia though majority of the Women that practiced geophagia were between 2039 with 39.46% (2029 years) and 29.25% (3039 years) that reported practicing geophagia. Women who reported practicing geophagia in earlier pregnancies (47.58%) also practiced geophagy in the current pregnancy. The Women practicing geophagia were exposed to level of 575.9964 mg/kg/day.