Prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection and associated factors among pregnant women attending antenatal care at public health facilities in Lalo Kile district, Oromia, Western Ethiopia
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This study aimed to assess the prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection and associated factors among pregnant women attending antenatal care at public health facilities in Lalo Kile district, Oromia, Western Ethiopia.
Out of the 315 respondents, the mean age was 24.7 ± 2.54 years ranging between 15 and 44 years. The majority of the respondents were Oromo in ethnicity (90.2%) and protestant in religion (83.2%) and almost all (99%) of the study participants were married. Two hundred twenty-six (72%) of pregnant women were attended at least primary school and two hundred forty-six (78.1%) of the respondents were from farmer households. About half of the households (51.7%) had a monthly income of greater than 35 USD. The overall prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection was 138 (43.8%) with the predominance of hookworm (33.7%) followed by Ascaris lumbricoides (7.3%). Being a farmer [AOR, 95% CI 7.3 (1.46, 37.00), P = 0.03], walking barefooted [AOR, 95% CI 6.13 (1.98, 19.00), P = 0.002] and absence of proper handwashing after latrine [AOR, 95% CI 5.36 (1.78, 16.00), P = 0.003] were significantly associated with occurrence of the intestinal parasitic infection.
KeywordsPrevalence Intestinal parasitic infection Pregnant women Lalo Kile district
adjusted odds ratio
crude odds ratio
intestinal parasitic infection
internal quality control
revolution per minute
standard operating procedure
soil transmitted helminthes
World Health Organization
Intestinal parasitic infection (IPI) is a condition in which a parasite infects the gastrointestinal tract of humans. Parasitic infections, caused by intestinal helminths and protozoan parasites, are among the most prevalent infections in humans in developing countries. The difference between the two occurs in their cell structure. Protozoan parasites are single-celled while helminths are multi-cellular worms [1, 2, 3]. According to world health organization (WHO) estimates, soil-transmitted helminths (STH) affects 1.5 billion people worldwide (24% of the world population) with the greatest numbers occurring in sub-Saharan Africa [1, 2].
Intestinal parasitic infection is very common in Ethiopia and the magnitude of infection varies from place to place [4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Intestinal parasitic infections account for the second most predominant causes of outpatient morbidity in the country . High prevalence of parasitic infection in Ethiopia was due to the unsafe and inadequate provision of water, unhygienic living conditions, the absence of proper utilization of latrine and habit of walking with a barefoot [5, 10].
Tens of millions of pregnant women as one of the segments of the community are affected by parasitic infections which directly or indirectly lead to a spectrum of adverse maternal and fetal/placental effects . Intestinal helminths are among the most common and widespread of human infections contributing to poor nutritional status, anemia and impaired growth .
The major IPI of global public health concern is the protozoan species like E. histolytica and G. lamblia and helminthic species like A. lumbricoides, T. trichuria, hookworm (A. duodenale and N. americanus), E. vermicularis, Taenia species and S. mansoni [2, 13].
IPI is associated with poverty conditions such as reduced access to safe drinking water, poor environmental sanitation and personal hygiene, inadequate access to health care, poor nutritional status, prevailing climatic and environmental conditions [14, 15].
Pregnancy is a physiological state which is often associated with changes in disease susceptibility. The change in immunity during pregnancy induces tolerance to fetal implantation and also associated with decreased immunity to various infections such as IPI. So, IPI is a double burden for pregnant women in affecting the health of both pregnant women and their offspring [9, 15]. IPI is a major public health problem in Ethiopia with the varied prevalence from place to place, but data is limited in the western part of the region. Therefore, the present study aims to fill this gap in the study area.
Hypothesis (research questions)
What will be the prevalence of intestinal parasitosis in the study area? Which of the identified species becomes the most dominant? Which of the associated factors is predisposing for the occurrence of the intestinal parasitosis? These and others need answers.
A systematic random sampling technique was employed to select the study subjects from ANC during the survey period. According to the health centers service delivery report, on average, 770 pregnant mothers have enrolled in ANC. A sampling interval of 2 was used to select participants after sample size was allocated proportionally to all HCs. Of the first two pregnant mothers, one was selected by the lottery method, eventually, every 2nd; the participant was selected for enrolment in the study.
Ethical clearance was obtained from the Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) of Wollega University, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Public Health. A formal letter of cooperation was written to the respective administrator of all HCs. Informed written consent was obtained from each study participant. Confidentiality was maintained and the unauthorized person did not access to the data collection and processing area. All identified parasites were treated according to the guidelines of the National helminth Control Program of Ethiopia .
For the sake of data quality, pre-testing was performed and also training was given to interviewers before data collection and periodic supervision was done by the principal investigator to check consistency and completeness of the data.
Using structured questionnaires, data such as socio-demographic, hygiene and environmental factors, and nutritional and dietary-related factors were collected by direct interview and reviewing of respondent’s medical records. A stool sample was collected and processed by direct wet mount and formalin-ether concentration techniques to identify intestinal parasites.
All data were cleaned, edited and checked for completeness and analyzed by using SPSS version 20 and displayed by tables. Descriptive statistics were employed to depict numbers and frequencies. Furthermore, odds ratio, 95% confidence interval, and P value were computed using a logistic regression model to assess the associations between dependent and independent variables. Variables having a P-value less than 0.05 with 95% confidence interval were declared as statistically significant.
Socio-demographic characteristics of pregnant mothers on antenatal care visit in Lalo Kile district health facilities from April 1 to May 15, 2019 (n = 315)
No formal education
College and above
Average monthly income of the familya
Prevalence of intestinal parasites among pregnant mothers on ANC visits in Lalo Kile district health facilities from April 1 to May 15, 2019 (n = 315)
Logistic regression analysis of determinants associated with IPI among pregnant mothers on ANC visit at health facilities in Lalo Kile district from April 1 to May 15, 2019 (n = 315)
COR (95% CI)a
Present, n (%)
Absent, n (%)
3.8 (1.4, 10.76)
0.3 (0.02, 4.2)
2.5 (0.8, 7.46)
0.68 (0.05, 8)
College and above
Place of residence
3.4 (1.8, 6.3)
0.34 (0.05, 2.1)
2.25 (1.2, 4)
Average monthly incomec
1.58 (0.6, 3.87)
1.7 (0.9, 2.9)
Habit of eating unwashed fruits and vegetables
Water treatment before drinking
1.2 (0.7, 2.15)
Walking bare footed
5.3 (3.3, 8.7)
6.13 (1.98, 19)
Hand washing before food preparation (with)
Soap and water
2.5 (0.85, 7.5)
Presence of latrine facility
Hand washing purpose after latrine (with)
Soap and water
4.3 (1.7, 10.2)
Access to health education
1.14 (0.7, 1.9)
As multivariate analysis showed lack of handwashing habit after latrine, being a farmer and walking barefoot were significant predictors of IPI where the pregnant women lacking habit of handwashing after latrine, being a farmer and walking barefoot were 5.36, 7.3 and 6.13 times more often infected with intestinal parasitosis than their counterparts ([AOR, 95% CI 5.36 (1.78, 16), P = 0.003], [AOR, 95% CI 7.3 (1.46, 37.00), P = 0.03], [AOR, 95% CI 6.13 (1.98, 19.00), P = 0.002]), respectively (Table 3).
Ethiopia is a developing country where IPIs are major public health problems with the high prevalence reported [6, 7]. The burden of intestinal parasites, particularly the soil-transmitted helminths (STHs), is often very high in school children and pregnant women [3, 14]. High prevalence of hookworm was reported in some parts of Ethiopia like East Wollega districts , Gilgel Gibe dam area  and Anbesame health center ; whereas northern and southern part of Ethiopia in Wondo Genet  and Mecha districts  were infected with high dominance of Ascaris lumbricoides.
A cross-sectional study conducted in similar study settings like in Colombia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Gabon, and Kenya revealed 1.2%, 73.9%, 56.8%, 49% and 25.23% of IPI respectively [10, 16, 17, 18, 19]. Intestinal parasitosis is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It is a medical and public health problem in sub-Saharan countries including Ethiopia. Pregnant women are one of the most vulnerable groups for this infection due to their immune suppression during their pregnancy .
According to WHO, IPI is considered a public health problem if the prevalence of IPI is greater than 20% . Accordingly, with the prevalence of 43.8%, intestinal parasitosis is one of the major public health concerns in the study area. This finding was comparable with findings from Nigeria 43.8%  and Gilgel Gibe dam area, South West Ethiopia 41%  and Gabon 49% , but was lower than the findings from Venezuela 73.9% , Makurdi, Benue state 56.8% , and Mecha district, North West Ethiopia (70.6%) ; however, our finding was higher when compared to findings reported from Bogota, Colombia (1.2%) , Nepal 35% , Kwale district, Kenya 25.23% , Bahir Dar, North West Ethiopia 31.5% , Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Addis Ababa 25.2%  and Debre Markos, North West Ethiopia 27.4% .
These variations could be attributable to smaller sample size, the difference in the geographical area and cultural practices, difference in implementation of various intervention strategies, the difference in study settings and time of the study, and the difference in location of the subjects under consideration. The specific type of study subjects, the methods employed for stool examination, and the time of study may have also contributed to the variation [10, 16, 17, 19].
The most identified parasite in the study area was hookworm 106 (33.7%) followed by Ascaris lumbricoides 23 (7.3%) which was in agreement with reports from other areas in Ethiopia [4, 7, 8]. But, different reports from Venezuela , Nepal (21), Kenya  and Wondo Genet, Southern Ethiopia  indicated the commonest parasite was Ascaris lumbricoides. This disparity might be due to the difference in geography, wearing shoes and level of income.
In our study, being a farmer, walking barefooted and absence of appropriate handwashing habit after latrine significantly increases intestinal parasitic infection. This finding was comparable with the study conducted in Kenya  and Mecha district, South Ethiopia , but it was not consistent with the study conducted in Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Addis Ababa . This might be attributed to the difference in residence, socio-demography, and level of awareness.
In this study, pregnant women with a habit of walking barefoot were six times more likely infected by hookworm than who wear shoe regularly. This finding was comparable with the study conducted in Mecha district, Hosanna, South Ethiopia and Anbesame, North West Ethiopia were not wearing shoes regularly increases the odds of infection higher than their counterparts. This is because the larvae of hookworm penetrate exposed human skin from contaminated soil [5, 8, 25].
Those pregnant women from farmer households were more likely infected by intestinal parasites when compared with a government employee. This finding was comparable with the study done in Ibadan of Nigeria  and Kitale district, Kenya  where being farmers (engaged in agricultural activity) had statistically significant association with IPI since this activity enables them to have frequent contact with contaminated soil.
In the present study, washing hands with water only after latrine increases the odds of IPI in pregnant women by 5.36 folds higher. This finding was consistent with the study done in Makurdi, Nigeria , Anbesame and Bahir Dar, North West Ethiopia [8, 11] whereas it was inconsistent with the study done in East Wollega  and Hosanna, Southern Ethiopia .
Unlike our result, research done in Hosanna, Southern Ethiopia reported unprotected sources of water, family size, and low monthly income (< 35 USD) had a positive association with IPI .
The prevalence of IPI was significantly high in the study area where pregnant mothers were mostly affected by hookworm infection and ascariasis. The determinant factors were being a farmer, walking barefooted and absence of handwashing habit after latrine. To alleviate this burden, intervention like periodic treatment (deworming), health education, improving sanitation and awareness creation on shoe wearing habit for pregnant women should be given.
Limitation of the study
Limitations of our study include the use of the small sample size and a single stool specimen to assess infection status, which may have underestimated the worm burden. Also, we recommend further study on the anemic status of the participants.
All authors were very grateful to laboratory staff of Lalo Kile, Wabera, Hadere Haro and Serba health centers for their indispensable contribution in data collection. We also acknowledged study participants for their cooperation in our study.
DAY and LTA: was a primary researcher, conceived, designed and developed a proposal. DAY and EAG developed a data collection sheet, collected data and analyzed it. EKT participated in the interpretation of the results, drafted the manuscript for publication and critical appraisal of the reviewed manuscript. LTA and EAG critically reviewed the 1st draft of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.
Ethics approval and consent to participate
Ethical clearance was obtained from the Research Ethics Review Committee (RERC) of Wollega University, Institute of Health Sciences, Department of Public Health. Formal letter of cooperation was written to the respective administrator of all health centers. Informed written consent was obtained from each study participant before actual data collection. For those participants under age of 16, we have also taken consent from their parents. The collected data do not contain any person’s data in any form (including any individual details, images or videos) and the privacy, confidentiality, and anonymity of the patent data generated from the specimens was protected.
Consent for publication
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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