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Fair women at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, research finds

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Fair women, whether natural or bleached, are at a higher risk of developing ectopic pregnancy, a new study by the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has revealed.
According to the research, there is a higher association between skin colour and ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancy takes place outside the cavity of the womb to create an abnormal situation.

Ectopic pregnancy causes serious complications, especially, when it ruptures before diagnosis.

“The commonest sites of ectopic pregnancy are the fallopian tubes. The cervix, ovaries and the general abdominal cavity are also sites for the condition to occur,” Prof Baafuor Kofi Opoku, the lead researcher explained.

Damage to the fallopian tubes through infection or surgery, previous pelvic infection and cigarette smoking are risk factors.

People on Intra Uterine Device or IUD who get pregnant and those who use In vitro fertilization are also at risk.

Though global ectopic pregnancy rate is low, the prevalence of about 10% of admissions to the gynaecological wards of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi was found in the study. The incidence is about 30 per 1000 deliveries in Ghana.

The research was conducted at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital between September 2011 and August 2012.

It was aimed at scientifically testing the suspicion that ectopic pregnancy is higher in women with fair complexion.

“Over the years, we’ve had anecdotal evidence that women who are fair in complexion came frequently with ectopic pregnancy so we sought to find out if that is a risk factor,” Prof Opoku established.

In all 330 women were enrolled into the study of which two-thirds were controlled cases.

Prof Opoku and his team used 15 shades of colours showing a range of skin colours in dark people to assign participants to categories. Both the facial colour and the colour on the back of the woman were assessed.

“This is because the back and face are the parts of the body least and most likely to be altered by direct sunshine and bleaching creams respectively. For any woman who came in within a certain time of pregnancy, we matched the colour code with skin colour of the woman and we run the data,” he explains.

The researchers found respondents whose age averaged 27; 68% had 2 to 3-lifetime sexual partners.

They established at 95 per cent confidence levels the linkage between fair complexion and ectopic pregnancy.

Baffled at the finding, the researchers arrived at the belief Ghanaian men’s preference for fair ladies as feasible reason.

“Since fair women are more attracted to men there is the high chance of getting more sexual partners; and the more lifetime sexual partners, the more the chances of getting pelvic infections, which mostly damage the fallopian tubes, ” Prof Opoku, emphasized.

He advises young women against having multiple sexual partners.

Prof Opoku notes, however, that the research never supported the belief fair-complexioned women are more likely to be promiscuous and open themselves to risk of fallopian tube damage through infections.

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