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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 240-243

Maternal and neonatal risk factors associated with vertical transmission of ophthalmia neonatorum in neonates receiving health care in Blantyre, Malawi

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University of South Florida Eye Institute, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Tampa, Florida, USA
2 Department of International Medicine, University of South Florida Eye Institute, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Tampa, Florida, USA
3 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Lilongwe, Malawi

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Roshni Ranjit
12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Tampa, Florida 33612
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.134684

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Context: Neonatal conjunctivitis is associated with poor prenatal care worldwide. Purpose: Data on neonatal conjunctivitis is scarce in Malawi. This study describes risk factors associated with conjunctivitis in neonates born in a large tertiary care hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Materials and Methods: Medical records of a retrospective cohort of 231 neonates diagnosed with conjunctivitis from January 2006 to December 2009 at a large tertiary hospital in Malawi were reviewed. All subjects were clinically diagnosed with ophthalmia neonatorum. Data were collected on patient demographics and clinical features. The frequencies were calculated of various risk factors in neonates with ophthalmia neonatorum and their mothers as well as the treatments administered. Results: Mean age of the mother was 23.45 years (range, 15-40 years), and the mean number of previous deliveries was 2.3 (range, 1-7) children. Nearly, 80% of mothers delivered preterm infants via spontaneous vaginal delivery. The mean birth weight of neonates was 2869.6 grams (1100-5000 grams). Among mothers, premature rupture of membranes was the leading risk factor (24%) followed by sepsis during labor (9%), and history of sexually transmitted infections (STI) (7%). Neonates presented with low Apgar scores (19%), fever (8%), and/or meconium aspiration (5%). Providers treated patients empirically with a varied combination of benzyl penicillin, gentamicin, tetracycline eye ointment, and saline eye wash. Tetracycline with a saline eyewash was used frequently (34%) compared with combinations of benzyl penicillin and gentamicin. Conclusions: Improving prenatal care to reduce sepsis, traumatic deliveries, and early diagnosis of STI with appropriate treatment may potentially reduce vertical transmission of neonatal conjunctivitis in this understudied population.

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