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Assessing the effects of maternal HIV infection on pregnancy outcomes using cross-sectional data in Malawi
Authors: Halima S. Twabi, Samuel O. Manda, and Dylan S. Small
Source: BMC Public Health, 20(Article number: 974); DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-09046-0
Topic(s): HIV/AIDS
Maternal health
Pregnancy outcomes
Country: Africa
Published: JUN 2020
Abstract: Background Several studies have shown that maternal HIV infection is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight and perinatal mortality. However, the association is conflicted with the effect of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on the pregnancy outcomes and it remains unexamined. If the association is confirmed then it would guide policy makers towards more effective prevention of mother to child HIV transmission interventions. Using methods for matching possible confounders, the objectives of the study were to assess the effect of maternal HIV infection on birth weight and perinatal mortality and to investigate the effect of ART on these two pregnancy outcomes in HIV-infected women. Methods Data on 4111 and 4759 children, born within five years of the 2010 and 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Surveys (MDHS) respectively, whose mothers had an HIV test result, were analysed. A best balancing method was chosen from a set of covariate balance methods namely, the 1:1 nearest neighbour (NN) matching, matching on the propensity score (PS) and inverse weighting on the PS. HIV and ART data were only available in the MDHS 2010, permitting an assessment of the moderating effect of ART on the association between maternal HIV infection and birth weight and perinatal mortality. Results The overall average birth weight was 3227.9g (95% CI: 3206.4, 3249.5) in 2010 and 3226.4g (95%: 3205.6, 3247.2) in 2015-16 and perinatal mortality was 3.8% (95%: 3.2, 4.3) in 2010 and 3.5% (95%: 2.8, 3.8) in 2015-16. The prevalence of HIV among the mothers was 11.1% (95%: 10.1, 12.0) and 9.2% (95% CI: 8.4, 10.1) in 2010 and 2015-16, respectively. In 2010, maternal HIV infection was negatively associated with birth weight (mean= -25.3g, 95% CI:(-95.5, -7.4)) and in 2015-16 it was positively associated with birth weight (mean= 116.3g, 95% CI:(27.8, 204.7)). Perinatal mortality was higher in infants of HIV-infected mothers compared to infants of HIV-uninfected mothers (OR = 1.5, 95% CI:(1.1 - 3.1)) in 2010, while there was no difference in the rate in 2015-16 (OR = 1.0, 95% CI:(0.4, 1.6)). ART was not associated with birth weight, however, it was associated with perinatal mortality (OR=3.9, 95% CI:(1.1, 14.8)). Conclusion The study has found that maternal HIV infection had an adverse effect on birth weight and perinatal mortality in 2010. Birth weight was not dependent on ART uptake but perinatal mortality was higher among infants of HIV-infected mothers who were not on ART. The higher birth weight among HIV-infected mothers and similarity in perinatal mortality with HIV-uninfected mothers in 2015-16 may be indicative of successes of interventions within the PMTCT program in Malawi.