Journal of Public Health and Nutrition

Research Article - Journal of Public Health and Nutrition (2019) Volume 2, Issue 2

The prevalence and risk factors of Hypokalaemia among pregnant women in rural Eastern Cape South Africa.

Hypokalemia is a rare disorder among healthy pregnant women although life threatening muscle and cardiac malfunction may develop if it remains untreated. This study was carried out to estimate prevalence of hypokalemia among pregnant women in rural Eastern Cape South Africa, and to establish whether geophagia, a common practice, increases the risk of hypokalemia. Methods: This cross-sectional analytical study included 188 participants with geophagia and 233 participants without geophagia enrolled at Gate Way Antenatal Clinic, Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Data included socio-demographic characteristics, the magnitude of geophagia, dietary patterns and serum potassium levels. The Chi-square test for categorical variables, ANOVA to compare means, multivariate logistic regression for independent risk factors, and principal component analysis for latent variable patterns that were associated with hypokalemia were carried out. A p <0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Hypokalemia among pregnant women in rural Eastern Cape South Africa was five times higher than expected. Geophagia accounted for only 15% of the observed cases of hypokalemia. The risk of hypokalemia was higher among primigravida below 25 years with low meat and fruit consumption that practiced geophagia; and concurrent low vegetable and excessive cola or caffeinated soft-drink consumption. Conclusion: Hypokalemia is disproportionally prevalent among pregnant women in rural Eastern Cape South Africa. Low age, primigravida, geophagia, diet deficient in meat vegetables and fruits, and fizzy soft beverages increased the risk of hypokalemia. The association of geophagia with low meat, vegetable and fruit consumption may indicate an underlying iron deficiency hence necessitates further investigation.

Author(s): Charles B Businge, Xolani B Mbongozi, Mana L, Julius N Wandabwa

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