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Leslie, Paul W.; Campbell, Kenneth L.; & Little, Michael A. (1993). Pregnancy Loss in Nomadic and Settled Women in Turkana, Kenya: A Prospective Study. Human Biology, 65(2), 237-254.


There have been few investigations of intrauterine mortality in non-Western populations that have used techniques capable of detecting early pregnancy loss. We report here the initial results of a prospective study of fetal loss among the Turkana of northwest Kenya. Over 300 nomadic and settled women provided early morning urine samples for 3 consecutive days. Chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a marker for pregnancy, and markers of ovarian cyclicity (LH, PdG) were determined with solid-phase enzyme immunoassays. Pregnancy was detected in 11% of nomadic women and in 22% of sedentary women of reproductive age. Follow-up surveys revealed that 45% of all pregnancies among settled women were lost; nearly 70% of pregnancies detected in the first trimester were lost. In contrast, none of the nomadic women experienced fetal loss. Because of the small sample sizes, these results must be interpreted cautiously. Nevertheless, even a conservative estimate of the fetal loss rate among the settled women is high compared with Western experience. Anthropometric data suggest that nutritional stress may contribute to the difference between the two populations. There is also some indication that risk of fetal loss in the settled population is associated with parity. The high rate of loss among the settled women along with the difference between the nomadic and settled samples supports the contentions that there may be substantial variation among populations in intrauterine mortality and that the contribution of fetal loss to fertility differences among populations may be more important than has been suspected.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Human Biology


Leslie, Paul W.
Campbell, Kenneth L.
Little, Michael A.