Community based screening for sickle haemoglobin among pregnant women in Benue State, Nigeria: I‑Care‑to‑Know, a Healthy Beginning Initiative

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BMC Pregnancy Childbirth
Background: Haemoglobin genotype screening at prenatal care offers women an opportunity to be aware of their genotype, receive education on sickle cell disease (SCD) and may increase maternal demand for SCD newborn screening. In developed countries, most pregnant women who access prenatal care and deliver at the hospital receive haemoglobin genotype screening. In settings with low prenatal care attendance and low hospital deliveries, community-based screening may provide similar opportunity for pregnant women. We assessed the feasibility and acceptability of integrating haemoglobin genotype screening into an existing community-based HIV program. Methods: Onsite community-based integrated testing for HIV, hepatitis B virus and haemoglobin electrophoresis, were conducted for pregnant women and their male partners. Community Health Advisors implementing the NIH and PEPFAR-supported Healthy Beginning Initiative (HBI) program provided education on SCD, collected blood sample for haemoglobin electrophoresis and provided test results to participants enrolled into the HBI program. We concurrently conducted a cross-sectional study using a pretested, semi-structured, interviewer administered questionnaire to collect demographic data and assess awareness of individual haemoglobin “genotype” among HBI pregnant women participants. Results: In this study, 99.9% (10,167/10,168) of pregnant women who received education on SCD accepted and completed the survey, had blood drawn for haemoglobin electrophoresis and received their results. A majority of participating pregnant women (97.0%) were not aware of their haemoglobin “genotype”. Among the participants who were incorrect about their haemoglobin “genotype”, 41.1% (23/56) of women who reported their haemoglobin “genotype” as AA were actually AS. The odds of haemoglobin “genotype” awareness was higher among participants who were in younger age group, completed tertiary education, had less number of pregnancies, and attended antenatal care. Overall prevalence of sickle cell trait (AS) was 18.7%. Conclusions: It is feasible to integrate haemoglobin “genotype” testing into an existing community-based maternal-child program. Most pregnant women who were unaware of their haemoglobin “genotype” accepted and had haemoglobin genotype testing, and received their test results. Increasing parental awareness of their own haemoglobin “genotype” could increase their likelihood of accepting newborn screening for SCD
Sickle cell disease, Screening, Community-based, Awareness, Genotype, ACE: Genetic Medicine, WAGMC, University of Ghana, Ghana, Echezona E. Ezeanolue, Fabian Mgbeahurike, Amaka G. Ogidi