This study investigated the potentials of serum urea and calcium as biological markers in the confirmation of Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) in pregnant women. Hundred and two (102) pregnant women were divided into two groups based on their level of serum total protein and serum albumin (known indicators of PEM), while fifty (50) non-pregnant women were recruited to form the third group as control. Serum total protein, serum albumin, urea and calcium levels were estimated in all the subjects using standard methods, and comparisons were made. The results showed a marked decrease in urea (23.40 ± 2.75) and calcium (10.00 ± 0.55) concentrations in subjects with low serum total protein and albumin that correlated positively and significantly with serum total protein and serum albumin. r = +0.681, P<0.05 and r = +0.246, P<0.05 respectively. This study also implicated Parity and gestational age of pregnancy as factors that aggravate PEM in pregnant women. Healthcare providers may therefore include urea and calcium estimation in their antenatal routine for checking PEM in pregnant women.
Protein energy malnutrition may be defined as the cellular imbalance between the supply of nutrients (macronutrients and micronutrients) and energy and the body’s demand for them to ensure growth, maintenance and specific functions (Lin & Santoro, 2003;Hadi Atassi,2019). The term Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) applies to a group of related disorders that include marasmus, kwashiorkor and intermediate states of marasmus-kwashiorkor (Hadi Atassi, 2019). Protein energy malnutrition develops in adults and children whose consumption of protein and energy is insufficient to satisfy the body’s nutritional needs. In some cases there is pure protein deficiency when a persons’ diet provides energy but lacks the protein minimum and in energy deficiency in case of starvation when diet does not provide sufficient energy. It may also occur in persons who are unable to absorb vital nutrients or convert them into energy essential for healthy tissue formation or organ function in cases of chronic disease (Smith, 2002).
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