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3Department of Community Medicine, Madonna University, Elele, Rivers State, Nigeria 4Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Federal Medical Centre Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria 5Department of Community Medicine, Imo State University Teaching Hospital Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria
Herbal Medicine use even in pregnancy around the world has been on the increase despite widely reported dearth in information on safety of Herbs during pregnancy. This is to determine the prevalence and pattern of use of herbal medicines among pregnant women and nursing mothers who attended clinics in a tertiary hospital in South-East, Nigeria. This is a cross-sectional descriptive study of 500 pregnant and nursing mothers who were attending clinics in a tertiary hospital in Imo State, South East, Nigeria. A semi structured, pretested, interviewer administered questionnaire was used to collect information from participants and the systematic random sampling technique was used to select the study participants. Despite a generally high awareness (98.89%) about herbs noticed in this study, the prevalence of use during pregnancy was high (36.8%) with higher proportion of utilization recorded in the second (44.0%) and first (28.3%) trimesters of pregnancy. Majority of them (90.2%) used at least two or more types of herb during pregnancy and the common herbs used were; Bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), palm kernel oil, bitter kola, dogonyaro (Azadirachta indica) and garlic. The main reasons for use were; to alleviate pregnancy symptoms, (59.2%), and to treat malaria, (52.2%). Utilization was affected by attitude (p=0.004) and level of knowledge (p=0.000) of participants towards herbal medicine. The prevalence of herbal medicine use was high among our study participants so there is need to institute appropriate control measures by the relevant authorities to deal with this problem.