Clinical and laboratory presentation of first-time antenatal care visits of pregnant women in Ghana, a hospital-based study

PLoS One. 2023 Jan 4;18(1):e0280031. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280031. eCollection 2023.


Background: The WHO recommends pregnant women attend antenatal clinic at least three times during pregnancy; during the first, second and third trimesters. During these visits, an array of clinical and laboratory tests is conducted. The information obtained plays an important role not only in the management and care of pregnancy, but also guides policies targeted at addressing pregnancy-induced health challenges. This study therefore presents laboratory and clinical information of pregnant women at their first antenatal visits.

Methods: The study was cross-sectional in design which retrospectively reviewed laboratory and clinical data of pregnant women attending their first antenatal clinic (ANC) at the Comboni Hospital, Volta region, Ghana. The data reviewed included information on hemoglobin level, hemoglobin phenotype, malaria diagnostics, Human Immunodeficiency Virus test (HIV), glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) test, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) test, Syphilis test, blood pressure, age, urine glucose, and urine protein. The hemoglobin level was assayed with a hemoglobinometer. Qualitative lateral flow chromatographic immunoassay techniques were used to diagnose the HIV, HCV, HBV, syphilis, and malaria status of the pregnant women. Urine dipstick was used assay for the urine protein and urine glucose, whilst the methemoglobin test was used for the G6PD deficiency and alkaline hemoglobin electrophoresis for hemoglobin phenotype. Data on demographic, anthropometric and vital signs such as age, weight and blood pressure were also collected. Descriptive statistics were performed. Frequency and percentages were used to describe the categorical variables and means and standard deviations used to describe the continuous variables.

Results: Hemoglobin S(Hb S) was found in 12.8% of the women with 73.4% having hemoglobin levels below 11.5g/dl. On G6PD deficiency, 1.6% and 0.8% were partially and fully defective respectively. Also, urine protein (1.2%) and glucose (0.4%) were detected. The prevalence of HBV, HCV and malaria were 4.4%, 3.6% and 2.4%, respectively.

Conclusion: Anemia in pregnancy was high among the study sample. Malaria and hepatitis infections were observed in the study sample. Policies on maternal health should be targeted at providing better nutritional options, that can enhance the hemoglobin level during pregnancy. Pregnant women should benefit from enhanced surveillance for HIV, HBV, HCV, and syphilis.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ghana / epidemiology
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency*
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Hepacivirus
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis C* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Malaria* / diagnosis
  • Malaria* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / epidemiology
  • Pregnant Women
  • Prenatal Care
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syphilis* / diagnosis
  • Syphilis* / epidemiology

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.