Trend and burden of neural tube defects among cohort of pregnant women in Ethiopia: Where are we in the prevention and what is the way forward?
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Trend and burden of neural tube defects among cohort of pregnant women in Ethiopia: Where are we in the prevention and what is the way forward?

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      PLoS One
    • Description:

      Neural tube defect is one of the top five most serious birth defects in the world. In Ethiopia an accurate estimate of the trend and burden of neural tube defects is still unknown. There hasn’t been much research done on the prevalence and trend of neural tube defects in Eastern Ethiopia. To complement previous efforts of studies, the purpose of this study is to estimate the trend and burden of neural tube defects in Eastern Ethiopia as well as to investigate the epidemiological implications of the findings.


      A facility-based retrospective cohort study was carried out from cohort pregnant women who delivered in selected hospitals. File records of all babies who were found to have neural tube defects could be reached between 2017 and 2019. A structured checklist was used to collect data. The incidence of each case was calculated by dividing the number of cases per year by the total number of live births in each hospital. To determine the linear trend of neural tube defects over time, linear trend of Extended Mantel-Haenszel chi-square was performed. Data were presented using frequencies and percentages. Data were analyzed using SPSS for windows version 25.


      A total of 48,750 deliveries were recorded during the three years of the study considered for analyses with 522 women having neural tube defect giving an incidence rate of 107.5 per 10,000 live births in the three years. The most common types of neural tube defects found in the area were anencephaly and spina bifida accounting for 48.1% and 22.6%, respectively. The distribution of neural tube defects varied across the study hospitals, with Adama Medical College Hospital having the highest proportion (46.6%). Over half of the mothers (56.7%) live in cities. Mothers in the age group 25–34 (46.9%) and multigravida mothers had higher proportions (64.4%).of neural tube defects. None of the mothers took folic acid before conception, and only 19% took iron folic acid supplementation during their pregnancy.

      Conclusion and recommendation

      The findings showed that an increasing trend and burden of neural tube defects and preconception folic acid supplementation is insignificant in the region which showed that where we are in the prevention of neural tube defects. The finding suggests that preconception folic acid supplementation in conjunction with health care services should be considered to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the region. Aside from that, intensive prevention efforts for long-term folate intake through dietary diversification and appropriate public health interventions are required. Furthermore, data must be properly recorded in order to address disparities in neonatal death due to neural tube defects, and the determinants of neural tube defects should be investigated using large scale prospective studies with biomarkers.

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