Herbal medicines use during pregnancy in Sierra Leone: An exploratory cross-sectional study

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Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2018, 31 (5), pp. e302 - e309
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© 2017 Australian College of Midwives Background: The influence of complementary therapies on maternal health has attracted the attention of policy makers, health professionals and researchers globally especially in developing countries. However, there is lack of evidence on whether Sierra Leonean women use herbal medicine during pregnancy which limit the chance of providing better maternity care. Aim: This study was conducted to determine the prevalence and pattern of herbal medicines use among pregnant women attending an antenatal clinic at a tertiary maternal hospital in Sierra Leone. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among pregnant women (n = 134) who were at least 18 years of age and who have had at least one previous pregnancy, using face to face interview. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis were used for data analysis. Results: The response rate was 82.7%. Nearly two-thirds of pregnant women reported using herbal medicine (62.7%). Herbal medicine users were more likely to be Muslim than Christian. Luffa acutangula (L.) Roxb was the most cited herbal medicine used and was mostly indicated for urinary tract infection and pedal oedema. Perceived effectiveness and safety over conventional medicine (70.2%) was key driver for use, and majority did not disclose their use of herbs to their maternal health professional (95.2%). Conclusion: Herbal medicine use among pregnant women in this study was widespread. Maternal health providers should be aware of this relatively common practice and routinely discuss and educate pregnant women on the potential risks and benefits associated with the use of herbs.
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