Protecting adolescent girls against tetanus

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.6997.73 (Published 08 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:73
  1. Loretta Brabin,
  2. Julia Kemp,
  3. Sheila M Maxwell,
  4. John Ikimalo,
  5. Orikomaba K Obunge,
  6. Nimi D Briggs
  1. Senior lecturer in women's health Senior research fellow Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool L3 5QA
  2. Senior lecturer in biochemistry John Moores University, Liverpool L3 5UX
  3. Consultant obstetrician Senior registrar in microbiology Professor in obstetrics University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  4. Loretta Brabin and Julia Kemp are supported by the Overseas Development Administration.

    Would save many lives in the developing world

    Time and again tetanus has been described as a neglected disease.1 An estimated 8 million babies and 2 million children and adults may die from tetanus during the 1990s, mostly in developing countries--despite the World Health Organisation's call to eliminate the disease by this year. Vaccination to prevent post-abortal and maternal tetanus has been largely ignored. The primary aim of prevention programmes has been to eliminate neonatal tetanus2; the two commonest prevention programmes--immunisation of preschool children and of pregnant women--have omitted adolescent girls.

    Fauveau and colleagues collected data on 1101 cases of maternal tetanus in developing countries published between 1958 and 1990: 27% were attributed to post abortal and 67% to post partum sepsis.3 One third of all cases described were from Nigeria, which has a high rate of induced abortion, many of them performed under septic conditions. In …

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