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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 54-57

Time of passage of first stools (meconium) and serum levels of calcium and magnesium in Nigerian neonates (African neonates)

Department of Child Health, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
A I Omoigberale
Department of Child Health, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19562923

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BACKGROUND: Over 90% full term normal newborns are known to pass meconium (first stools) within the first 24 hrs of life especially among Caucasians. This has not been fully documented among African neonates. This study was therefore done to determine time of passage of first stools (meconium) in African neonates and also the serum levels of calcium and magnesium in these children in order to establish a data base for normal standards. METHODOLOGY: Two thousand and four hundred neonates were recruited from Hospitals in Benin City urban areas for the study. 76.7% of these were full term and AGA babies (37-40 weeks; 2.8 kg-4.3 kg) while 23.3% of them were preterm and low birth weight neonates (34-36 weeks and weight between 2.4 to 1.5 kg) respectively. RESULTS: 88% of the full term neonates passed meconium at 15.4 +/- 3.6 hrs of life while only 12.0% of them passed meconium after 24 hrs of life and all by 48 hrs of life. The mean time of passage of stools by preterm, low birth weight babies was 45.2 +/- 2.4 hrs. The values of serum calcium in the full term neonates ranged from 6.5 9.2 mEq/l with mean of 7.8 +/- 1.2 mEq/l while the level in the preterm low birthweight neonates was much lower (5.4 8.3 mEq/l) with a mean of 6.7 +/- 1.3 mEq/l. The values of serum magnesium ranged from 0.9 1.6 mEq/l with a mean of 1.2 +/- 0.3 mEq/l in full term neonates while preterm low birthweight neonates had levels as low as 0.5 1.1 mEq/l with a mean of 0.7 +/- 0.2 mEq/l CONCLUSION: This study has shown a relatively shorter time of passage of first stools (meconium) in Nigerian neonates (blacks) than in the Caucasians. The implication of the findings in this study is that a delay in the passage of first stools (meconium) and early appearance of jaundice in normal black neonates could be due to gastrointestinal abnormalities. This observation could lead to early identification of these neonates with resultant early intervention.

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