Eclampsia in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — incidence, outcome, and the role of antenatal care

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In order to assess the effectiveness of antenatal care for prevention of eclampsia, a retrospective case-control study was performed at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. All women with eclampsia seen at MNH during 1999–2000 and controls without eclampsia were included.


The study used a labor ward database and antenatal cards of eclamptic women and non-eclamptic controls. For each of the 741 eclamptic women who delivered at MNH, two non-eclamptic controls were chosen from the database. For 399 of the eclampsia cases and 420 non-eclamptic controls, the antenatal records could be traced and compared.

Main outcome measures.

Maternal and perinatal mortality, detection of antenatal risk factors, appropriate referrals, and incidence of eclampsia.


Hospital and population-based incidences of eclampsia were 200/10 000 and 67/10 000, respectively. The case-fatality rate for eclampsia was 5.0% for women who delivered at MNH and 16% for those referred to MNH after being delivered elsewhere. The risk of low birth weight and perinatal death was significantly increased in eclamptic women (odds ratio = 6 and 10, respectively). The screening coverage for signs of pre-eclampsia was >85%, except for proteinuria (33%). Fewer than 50% of the women who developed eclampsia had been referred from the ANC clinic and <10% were admitted to the antenatal ward at MNH before onset of eclamptic fits.


The current practice of antenatal care is insufficient as a prevention strategy for eclampsia in a low-resource setting with high incidence of eclampsia.

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