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No proof amaranth or ‘efo tete’ prevents miscarriage

A Facebook post shared in Nigeria in November 2020 claims that amaranth, a plant known as “efo tete” in Yoruba, helps prevent miscarriages in women. 

It reads: “It is to avoid a miscarriage, it cools the hot belly as it is said in Africa. For a woman who regularly miscarries, she does the enema (crush and purge) with this plant until she has a pregnancy and continues the enema until the first trimester of pregnancy.”

Similar posts were shared on Facebook in South Africa and Nigeria earlier in the year. 

Is there any scientific proof to this claim? 

Not scientifically proven, seek medical help

While a few scientific studies list some nutritional and health benefits of amaranth, scientific name Amaranthus cruentus, Africa Check found no conclusive evidence that the plant can be used to prevent miscarriages in women of reproductive age.

“I don’t have any knowledge about this, I don’t think it has been scientifically proven to prevent miscarriage. Women suffering miscarriage are treated based on the cause of the miscarriage,” Garba Abdulkarim, professor of reproductive health in the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, told us.

He said that the treatment given to women suffering from miscarriage is broken into two categories – drugs and support. 

“We give drugs to women who have had a previous miscarriage in the first trimester [of pregnancy], usually between eight and 10 weeks. If we are able to ascertain hormonal imbalance was the cause, we give them certain drugs so that the new pregnancy can continue.”

Abdulkarim continued: “For the second category, which is when the woman has suffered miscarriage already but it is an incomplete miscarriage, we give her certain treatment so that the uterus can contract and expel what is left in it. We recommend bed rest and sometimes give patients sedatives to minimise their movement” 

“My advice is for women to go to the hospital because sometimes [signs of miscarriage] could be something more dangerous, it might be something different. It could be a molar pregnancy and using natural substances could lead to complications,” said Abdulkarim. – Catherine Olorunfemi


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