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1.  An investigation of the smoking behaviours of parents before, during and after the birth of their children in Taiwan 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:67.
Background
Although many studies have investigated the negative effects of parental smoking on children and Taiwan has started campaigns to promote smoke-free homes, little is known about the smoking behaviours of Taiwanese parents during the childbearing period. To help fill the gap, this study investigated Taiwanese parents' smoking behaviours before, during and after the birth of their children, particularly focusing on smoking cessation during pregnancy and relapse after childbirth.
Methods
We used data from the Survey of Health Status of Women and Children, conducted by Taiwan's National Health Research Institutes in 2000. After excluding survey respondents with missing information about their smoking behaviours, our sample consisted of 3,109 women who were married at the time of interview and had at least one childbearing experience between March 1, 1995 and February 28, 1999. Data on parental smoking behaviour in the six months before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and in the first year after childbirth were extracted from the survey and analysed by descriptive statistics as well as logistic regression.
Results
Four percent of the mothers and sixty percent of the fathers smoked before the conception of their first child. The educational attainment and occupation of the parents were associated with their smoking status before the first pregnancy in the family. Over 80% of smoking mothers did not quit during pregnancy, and almost all of the smoking fathers continued tobacco use while their partners were pregnant. Over two thirds of the women who stopped smoking during their pregnancies relapsed soon after childbirth. Very few smoking men stopped tobacco use while their partners were pregnant, and over a half of those who quit started to smoke again soon after their children were born.
Conclusion
Among Taiwanese women who had childbearing experiences in the late 1990s, few smoked. Of those who smoked, few quit during pregnancy. Most of those who quit relapsed in the first year after childbirth. The smoking prevalence was high among the husbands of these Taiwanese women, and almost all of these smoking fathers continued tobacco use while their partners were pregnant. It is important to advocate the benefits of a smoke-free home to Taiwanese parents-to-be and parents with young children, especially the fathers. The government should take advantage of its free prenatal care and well-child care services to do this. In addition to educational campaigns through the media, the government can request physicians to promote smoke-free homes when they deliver prenatal care and well-child care. This could help reduce young children's health risks from their mothers' smoking during pregnancy and second-hand smoke at home.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-67
PMCID: PMC2289813  PMID: 18284702
2.  Impact of Scotland's Smoke-Free Legislation on Pregnancy Complications: Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001175.
An analysis of pregnancy data for the whole of Scotland demonstrates a reduction in small-for-gestational-age births and preterm delivery since the introduction of legislation banning smoking in enclosed public spaces.
Background
Both active smoking and environmental tobacco smoke exposure are associated with pregnancy complications. In March 2006, Scotland implemented legislation prohibiting smoking in all wholly or partially enclosed public spaces. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of this legislation on preterm delivery and small for gestational age.
Methods and Findings
We conducted logistic regression analyses using national administrative pregnancy data covering the whole of Scotland. Of the two breakpoints tested, 1 January 2006 produced a better fit than the date when the legislation came into force (26 March 2006), suggesting an anticipatory effect. Among the 716,941 eligible women who conceived between August 1995 and February 2009 and subsequently delivered a live-born, singleton infant between 24 and 44 wk gestation, the prevalence of current smoking fell from 25.4% before legislation to 18.8% after legislation (p<0.001). Three months prior to the legislation, there were significant decreases in small for gestational age (−4.52%, 95% CI −8.28, −0.60, p = 0.024), overall preterm delivery (−11.72%, 95% CI −15.87, −7.35, p<0.001), and spontaneous preterm labour (−11.35%, 95% CI −17.20, −5.09, p = 0.001). In sub-group analyses, significant reductions were observed among both current and never smokers.
Conclusions
Reductions were observed in the risk of preterm delivery and small for gestational age 3 mo prior to the introduction of legislation, although the former reversed partially following the legislation. There is growing evidence of the potential for tobacco control legislation to have a positive impact on health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The risks of smoking during pregnancy, both on mother and fetus, are well established: women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage. Smoking can cause placental problems, such as placental abruption, which can result in heavy bleeding during pregnancy, which is dangerous for both mother and baby. Other dangers of smoking during pregnancy include the baby being born too early (premature birth), the baby being below average weight (small for gestational age), birth defects, and infant death. Because of the serious damage to health caused by smoking, in 2005, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, countries adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental, and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke. Article 8 of the treaty obliges member states who have ratified the treaty—168 so far—to protect all people from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, and indoor public places. As a result, many countries around the world have banned smoking in public places.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to ban smoking in public places, which was implemented as part of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill on 26 March 2006. Previous studies have shown that the introduction of the legislation led directly to a reduction in smoking and also a reduction in environmental tobacco smoke exposure in adults and children. Furthermore, the Scottish legislation has been accompanied by significant reductions in both cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Because of the known risks of smoking during pregnancy, the researchers wanted to investigate whether the change in policy on smoking in public places had positive benefits on the health of mothers and babies. They evaluated this by measuring the rates of preterm delivery and small for gestational age before and after the Scottish legislation went into effect.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected information on preterm delivery and small for gestational age in all single babies born live at 22–44 weeks gestation between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 2009 by using the Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR2), which collects relevant information on all women discharged from Scottish maternity hospitals, including maternal and infant characteristics and pregnancy complications. The researchers categorized preterm delivery into mild, moderate, and extreme depending on how much before 37 weeks the baby was born. They defined small for gestational age as the smallest 10% (below the 10th centile) for sex-specific birth weight at delivery, and very small for gestational age as the smallest 3% (below the 3rd centile), for all deliveries in Scotland over the study period. As some people may have stopped smoking in anticipation of the smoking ban, in their statistical model, the researchers included two possible breakpoints for the effect of the legislation—the actual date of implementation and 1 January 2006.
The researchers found that of the 716,968 pregnancies (the number eligible for inclusion in the study), 99.9% of women had their smoking status recorded, and among these 23.9% were current smokers, 57.6% never smokers, and 8.7% former smokers. However, following implementation of the legislation the researchers noted that there was a significant reduction in current smokers to 18.8%. In their statistical model, the researchers found that following 1 January 2006, there was a significant drop in overall preterm deliveries, which remained after adjustment for potential confounding factors. Likewise, there was a significant decrease in the number of infants born small, and very small, for gestational age after 1 January 2006. Furthermore, the researchers found that these significant reductions occurred in both mothers who smoked and those who had never smoked.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the introduction of national, comprehensive smoke-free legislation in Scotland was associated with significant reductions in preterm delivery and babies being born small for gestational age. These findings are plausible and add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation, and support the adoption of such legislation in other countries that have yet to implement smoking bans.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001175.
More information is available on the World Health Organization's Framework Convention for Tobacco Control
More information on the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information about the risks of smoking in pregnancy, as does the UK National Health Service's smokefree web page
NHS Health Scotland has a website that summarises all the studies to date evaluating the Scottish smoke-free legislation
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001175
PMCID: PMC3295815  PMID: 22412353
3.  Parental smoking during pregnancy and risk of overweight and obesity in the daughter 
Objective
Emerging evidence suggests that prenatal exposures may affect long-term health outcomes. In utero exposure to smoking is associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. However, few studies have examined how prenatal exposure to parental smoking influences risk of obesity in adulthood and whether these associations are independent of childhood and adolescent adiposity. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether prenatal exposure to parental smoking influences body size in adulthood and whether any association may be mediated by childhood and adolescent body size.
Methods
We investigated the association between parental smoking during pregnancy and risk of overweight and obesity in adulthood and at age 18, and adiposity during childhood among 35,370 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Data on smoking during pregnancy and socioeconomic variables were provided by the mothers, and anthropometric data and adult risk factors were reported by participants.
Results
After adjustment for socioeconomic and behavioral variables, maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with adiposity at ages 5–10, age 18, and during adulthood. For age 18 overweight the ORs (95% CIs) for 1–14, 15–24, and 25+cigarettes/day were 1.13 (1.18–1.50), 1.40 (1.20–1.64), and 1.15 (0.79–1.69) and for obesity were 1.41 (1.14–1.75), 1.69 (1.31–2.18), and 2.36 (1.44–3.86). The corresponding ORs (95% CIs) for obesity in adulthood were 1.26 (1.16–1.37), 1.46 (1.30–1.63), and 1.43 (1.10–1.86). Risk of adiposity was not increased among daughters whose mothers stopped smoking during the first trimester (OR [95% CI] for overweight (1.03 [95% CI 0.90–1.17] and obesity (1.12 [95% CI 0.97–1.30]). Women whose fathers smoked during pregnancy were also at increased risk of overweight and obesity in adulthood with covariate-adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for obesity of 1.19 (1.11–1.29) for 1–14 cigarettes/day, 1.27 (1.18–1.37) for 15–24 cigarettes/day, and 1.40 (1.27–1.54) for 25+ cigarettes/day compared to fathers who did not smoke (ptrend<0.0001). Paternal smoking during pregnancy was also associated with an increased risk of obesity at age 18 among those whose fathers smoked 15 or more cigarettes/day but was not associated with childhood body size.
Conclusions
Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated in a dose-response manner with overweight and obesity in the daughter through adolescence and adult life. Smoking cessation during the first trimester appears to mitigate this excess risk.
Paternal smoking was also associated with risk of overweight and obesity of the adult daughter and this association persisted after adjustment for maternal smoking.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.101
PMCID: PMC3795801  PMID: 23736356
pregnancy; prenatal programming; cigarette smoking; obesity
4.  Mother’s environmental tobacco smoke exposure during pregnancy and externalizing behavior problems in children 
Neurotoxicology  2012;34:167-174.
Background
While the impact of active maternal smoking during pregnancy on child health has been well investigated, the association between maternal passive smoking, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), or second-hand smoke, and behavioral development of offspring is less clear. This study examines the association between maternal ETS exposure during pregnancy and child behavior problems.
Methods
Cross-sectional data of 646 mother–child pairs from the Jintan China Cohort Study were used in the analyses. Mother’s exposure to tobacco smoking at home, the workplace, and other places during pregnancy (for the determination of maternal ETS exposure) and children’s behaviors (via Child Behavior Checklist) were assessed when the children were 5–6 years old. Logistic regression models were constructed to examine associations between maternal exposure to ETS during pregnancy and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, adjusting for potential cofounders including child sex and parental characteristics.
Results
37% of mothers reported ETS during pregnancy. Children of mothers exposed to ETS during pregnancy had higher scores for externalizing and total behavior problems, with 25% of children whose mothers were exposed to ETS compared to 16% of children of unexposed mothers. After adjusting for potential confounders, ETS exposure was associated with a higher risk of externalizing behavior problems in offspring of exposed mothers (OR = 2.08, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.27–3.43). Analysis after multiple imputations and sensitivity analysis further verified the association, but no dose–response relationship was found. ETS exposure, however, was not associated with internalizing or total behavior problems.
Conclusion
This study suggests that maternal ETS exposure during pregnancy may impact child behavioral development, particularly externalizing behaviors.
doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2012.11.005
PMCID: PMC3587028  PMID: 23178460
Environmental tobacco exposure; Second-hand smoke; Child behavior problem; Externalizing behavior; Pregnancy exposure
5.  Exposure to parental smoking and child growth and development: a cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:104.
Background
Studies on adverse childhood health and development outcomes associated with parental smoking have shown inconsistent results. Using a cohort of Belarusian children, we examined differences in cognition, behaviors, growth, adiposity, and blood pressure at 6.5 years according to prenatal and postnatal exposure to parental smoking.
Methods
Using cluster-adjusted multivariable regression, effects of exposure to prenatal smoking were examined by comparing (1) children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy with those of mothers who smoked neither during nor after pregnancy and (2) children whose mothers smoked during and after pregnancy with those whose mothers smoked after pregnancy only; effects of postnatal smoking were examined by comparing (1) children whose mothers smoked after pregnancy only with those of mothers who smoked neither during nor after pregnancy and (2) children whose fathers smoked with those whose fathers did not smoke among children of non-smoking mothers after adjusting for a wide range of socioeconomic and family characteristics.
Results
After adjusting for confounders, children exposed vs unexposed to prenatal maternal smoking had no differences in mean IQ, teacher-rated behavioral problems, adiposity, or blood pressure. Children exposed to maternal postnatal smoking had slightly increased behavioral problems [0.9, 95% CI: 0.6, 1.2 for total difficulties], higher body mass index [0.2, 95% CI: 0.1, 0.3], greater total skinfold thickness [0.4, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.71], and higher odds of overweight or obesity [1.4, 95% CI; 1.1, 1.7]. Similar magnitudes of association were observed with postnatal paternal smoking.
Conclusions
No adverse cognitive, behavioral and developmental outcomes were associated with exposure to maternal prenatal smoking. Observed associations with postnatal smoking of both parents may reflect residual confounding by genetic and family environmental factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-104
PMCID: PMC3717101  PMID: 23842036
6.  Active and passive maternal smoking during pregnancy and birth outcomes: the Kyushu Okinawa Maternal and Child Health Study 
Background
In Western countries, active maternal smoking during pregnancy is recognized as the most important preventable risk factor for adverse birth outcomes. However, the effect of passive maternal smoking is less clear and has not been extensively studied. In Japan, there has been only one epidemiological study which examined the effects of active smoking during early pregnancy on birth outcomes although the effects of passive smoking were not assessed.
Methods
Study subjects were 1565 mothers with singleton pregnancies and the babies born from these pregnancies. Data on active maternal smoking status in the first, second, and third trimesters and maternal environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure at home and work were collected with self-administered questionnaires.
Results
Compared with children born to mothers who had never smoked during pregnancy, children born to mothers who had smoked throughout their pregnancy had a significantly increased risk of small-for-gestational-age (SGA) (adjusted odd ratio [OR] = 2.87; 95% confidence interval: 1.11 − 6.56). However, active maternal smoking only in the first trimester and active maternal smoking in the second and/or third trimesters but not throughout pregnancy were not significantly associated with SGA. With regard to the risk of preterm birth, the adjusted ORs for the above-mentioned three categories were not significant; however, the positive linear trend was significant (P for trend = 0.048). No significant association was found between active maternal smoking during pregnancy and the risk of low birth weight. There was a significant inverse relationship between active maternal smoking during pregnancy and birth weight; newborns of mothers who had smoked throughout pregnancy had an adjusted mean birth weight reduction of 169.6 g. When classifying babies by gender, a significant positive association between active maternal smoking throughout pregnancy and the risk of SGA was found only in male newborns, however, the interaction was not significant. Maternal ETS exposure at home or work was not significantly associated with any birth outcomes.
Conclusions
This is the first study in Japan to show that active maternal smoking throughout pregnancy, but not during the first trimester, is significantly associated with an increased risk of SGA and a decrease in birth weight. Thus, women who smoke should quit smoking as soon as possible after conception.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-157
PMCID: PMC3750375  PMID: 23919433
7.  Increased Nicotine Self-Administration Following Prenatal Exposure in Female Rats 
There is a significant association between maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy and greater subsequent risk of smoking in female offspring. In animal models, prenatal nicotine exposure causes persistent alterations in cholinergic and monoaminergic systems, both of which are important for nicotine actions underlying tobacco addiction. Accordingly, the current study was conducted to determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between prenatal nicotine exposure and nicotine self-administration starting in adolescence. Pregnant rats were administered nicotine (6 mg/kg/day) by osmotic minipump infusion throughout gestation and then, beginning in adolescence and continuing into adulthood, female offspring were given access to nicotine via a standard operant IV self-administration procedure (0.03 mg/kg/infusion). Gestational nicotine exposure did not alter the initial rate of nicotine self-administration. However, when animals underwent one week of forced abstinence and then had a second opportunity to self-administer nicotine, the prenatally-exposed animals showed a significantly greater rate of self-administration than did the controls. Prenatal nicotine exposure causes increased nicotine self-administration, which is revealed only when the animals are allowed to experience a period of nicotine abstinence. This supports a cause-and-effect relationship between the higher rates of smoking in the daughters of women who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy and implicates a role for nicotine in this effect. Our results further characterize the long-term liabilities of maternal smoking but also point to the potential liabilities of nicotine-based treatments for smoking cessation during pregnancy.
doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2006.11.006
PMCID: PMC1797890  PMID: 17196243
Nicotine; Self-administration; Prenatal; Adolescent; Prenatal Nicotine Exposure
8.  Does maternal smoking during pregnancy predict the smoking patterns of young adult offspring? A birth cohort study 
Tobacco Control  2006;15(6):452-457.
Objective
To examine the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the development of smoking behaviour patterns among young adult offspring.
Method
Data were from the Mater‐University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), a birth cohort of 7223 mothers and children enrolled in Brisbane, Australia, in 1981. The development of smoking behaviours (early or late onset, or combination of onset and prevalence patterns) among offspring at age 21 years with different patterns of maternal smoking (never smoked, smoked before or after pregnancy but not during pregnancy, or smoked during pregnancy) were compared. Maternal smoking information was derived from the prospectively collected data from the beginning of pregnancy until the child was 14 years of age. Analyses were restricted to the 3058 mothers and children whose smoking status was reported.
Results
The proportion of young adults who smoked regularly, either with early onset or late onset, was greater among those whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy compared with those whose mothers had never smoked. The smoking patterns among those adolescent offspring whose mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy, but who then smoked at other times during the child's life, were similar to those whose mothers had never smoked. This association was robust to adjustment for a variety of potential covariates.
Conclusions
The findings provide some evidence for a direct effect of maternal smoking in utero on the development of smoking behaviour patterns of offspring and provide yet another incentive to persuade pregnant women not to smoke.
doi:10.1136/tc.2006.016790
PMCID: PMC2563674  PMID: 17130374
9.  Maternal Smoking Cessation and Reduced Academic and Behavioral Problems In Offspring* 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2011;121(1-2):62-67.
Background
There is some debate whether smoking during pregnancy causes or is only a risk factor for negative academic outcomes and increased risk of psychopathology in offspring. This study evaluated whether maternal smoking cessation would reduce the risk of adverse outcomes in school-aged children.
Methods
Women completed an online survey that included items about child scholastic performance and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Mothers were divided based on pre-pregnancy and pregnancy smoking status into: 1) Nonsmokers (N=320); 2) Women that smoked in the three months preceding and throughout pregnancy (Smokers, N=83); and 3) Smoking before, but not during pregnancy (Quitters, N=72).
Results
The Smokers and Quitters groups each had lower education and incomes compared to Nonsmokers but were indistinguishable from each other on these measures. The offspring of Smokers were more likely (p<.05) to be behind their peers on standardized tests in math (27.8%) relative to both Nonsmokers (17.4%) and Quitters (13.0%) with similar findings for reading. Smokers reported more behavioral problems by their children in several areas including Hyperactivity and Impulsivity, Social problems, and Externalizing problems including Aggression and Rule-Breaking. Further, the children of Quitters had significantly fewer Attention and Externalizing problems than Smokers. These outcomes were observed even after accounting for the variance attributable to maternal education and several other potential confounds.
Conclusions
Together, these findings indicate that smoking cessation is associated with reduced risk of having children with academic and neuropsychological difficulties. These outcomes are discussed within the framework that nicotine may be a neurobehavioral teratogen.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.08.004
PMCID: PMC3262955  PMID: 21937170
aggression; attention; math; nicotine; psychopathology; prenatal
10.  Intergenerational transmission of maltreatment and psychopathology: the role of antenatal depression 
Psychological Medicine  2012;43(3):519-528.
Background
Maternal experience of childhood maltreatment and maternal antenatal depression are both associated with offspring childhood maltreatment and offspring adjustment problems. We have investigated the relative impact of maternal childhood maltreatment and exposure to depression in utero on offspring maltreatment and psychopathology.
Method
The sample included 125 families from the South London Child Development Study. A prospective longitudinal design was used. Data on maternal childhood maltreatment, maternal antenatal depression (36 weeks of pregnancy), offspring childhood maltreatment (age 11 years) and offspring adolescent antisocial behaviour and depression (ages 11 and 16 years) were obtained from parents and offspring through clinical interview.
Results
Mothers who experienced childhood maltreatment were significantly more likely to be depressed during pregnancy [odds ratio (OR) 10.00]. Offspring of mothers who experienced only childhood maltreatment or only antenatal depression were no more at risk of being maltreated or having psychopathology; however, offspring of mothers who experienced both maternal childhood maltreatment and antenatal depression were exposed to significantly greater levels of childhood maltreatment and exhibited significantly higher levels of adolescent antisocial behaviour compared with offspring not so exposed. Furthermore, maternal childhood maltreatment accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in offspring childhood maltreatment in only those offspring exposed to depression in utero.
Conclusions
Maternal childhood maltreatment and maternal antenatal depression are highly associated. The co-occurrence of both insults significantly increases the risk of offspring adversity. The antenatal period is an optimum period to identify vulnerable women and to provide interventions.
doi:10.1017/S0033291712001298
PMCID: PMC3558981  PMID: 22694795
Adolescents; antisocial behaviour; maltreatment; pregnancy; prenatal stress
11.  Association of Prenatal and Childhood Blood Lead Concentrations with Criminal Arrests in Early Adulthood 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e101.
Background
Childhood lead exposure is a purported risk factor for antisocial behavior, but prior studies either relied on indirect measures of exposure or did not follow participants into adulthood to examine the relationship between lead exposure and criminal activity in young adults. The objective of this study was to determine if prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations are associated with arrests for criminal offenses.
Methods and Findings
Pregnant women were recruited from four prenatal clinics in Cincinnati, Ohio if they resided in areas of the city with a high concentration of older, lead-contaminated housing. We studied 250 individuals, 19 to 24 y of age, out of 376 children who were recruited at birth between 1979 and 1984. Prenatal maternal blood lead concentrations were measured during the first or early second trimester of pregnancy. Childhood blood lead concentrations were measured on a quarterly and biannual basis through 6.5 y. Study participants were examined at an inner-city pediatric clinic and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Total arrests and arrests for offenses involving violence were collected from official Hamilton County, Ohio criminal justice records. Main outcomes were the covariate-adjusted rate ratios (RR) for total arrests and arrests for violent crimes associated with each 5 μg/dl (0.24 μmol/l) increase in blood lead concentration. Adjusted total arrest rates were greater for each 5 μg/dl (0.24 μmol/l) increase in blood lead concentration: RR = 1.40 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07–1.85) for prenatal blood lead, 1.07 (95% CI 0.88–1.29) for average childhood blood lead, and 1.27 (95% CI 1.03–1.57) for 6-year blood lead. Adjusted arrest rates for violent crimes were also greater for each 5 μg/dl increase in blood lead: RR = 1.34 (95% CI 0.88–2.03) for prenatal blood lead, 1.30 (95% CI 1.03–1.64) for average childhood blood lead, and 1.48 (95% CI 1.15–1.89) for 6-year blood lead.
Conclusions
Prenatal and postnatal blood lead concentrations are associated with higher rates of total arrests and/or arrests for offenses involving violence. This is the first prospective study to demonstrate an association between developmental exposure to lead and adult criminal behavior.
Kim Dietrich and colleagues find an association between developmental exposure to lead and adult criminal behavior.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Violent crime is an increasing problem in many countries, but why are some people more aggressive than others? Being male has been identified as a risk factor for violent criminal behavior in several studies, as have exposure to tobacco smoke before birth, having antisocial parents, and belonging to a poor family. Another potential risk factor for antisocial behavior as an adult is exposure to lead during childhood, although few studies have looked directly at whether childhood lead exposure is linked with criminal behavior in adulthood. Lead is a toxic metal that damages the nervous system when ingested or inhaled. It is present throughout the environment because of its widespread use in the past in paint, solder for water pipes, and gasoline. In 1978, 13.5 million US children had a blood lead level above 10 μg/dl, the current US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blood lead level of concern (the average US blood lead level is 2 μg/dl). Lead paint and solder were banned in 1978 and 1986, respectively, by the US federal government; leaded gasoline was finally phased out in 1996. By 2002, only 310,000 US children had a blood lead level above 10 μg/dl. However, children exposed to lower levels of lead than this—through ingesting flakes or dust residues of old lead paint, for example—can have poor intellectual development and behavioral problems including aggression.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although some studies have suggested that childhood lead exposure is associated with later criminal behavior, these studies have often relied on indirect measurements of childhood lead exposure such as bone lead levels in young adults or a history of lead poisoning. Other studies that have measured childhood lead exposure directly have not followed their participants into adulthood. In this new study, the researchers investigate the association between actual measurements of prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations and criminal arrests in early adulthood to get a clearer idea about whether early lead exposure is associated with subsequent violent behavior.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1979 and 1984, the researchers recruited pregnant women living in poor areas of Cincinnati, which had a high concentration of older, lead-contaminated housing, into the Cincinnati Lead Study. They measured the women's blood lead concentrations during pregnancy as an indication of their offspring's prenatal lead exposure and the children's blood lead levels regularly until they were six and half years old. They then obtained information from the local criminal justice records on how many times each of the 250 offspring had been arrested between becoming 18 years old and the end of October 2005. The researchers found that increased blood lead levels before birth and during early childhood were associated with higher rates of arrest for any reason and for violent crimes. For example, for every 5 μg/dl increase in blood lead levels at six years of age, the risk of being arrested for a violent crime as a young adult increased by almost 50% (the “relative risk” was 1.48).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide strong evidence that early lead exposure is a risk factor for criminal behavior, including violent crime, in adulthood. One possibility, which the authors were unable to assess in this study, is that lead exposure impairs intelligence, which in turn makes it more likely that a criminal offender will be caught (i.e., arrested). The authors discuss a number of limitations in their study—for example, they probably did not capture all criminal behavior (since most criminal behavior does not lead to arrest). Although both environmental lead levels and crime rates have dropped over the last 30 years in the US, the overall reduction was not uniform—inner-city children remain particularly vulnerable to lead exposure. The findings therefore suggest that a further reduction in childhood lead exposure might be an important and achievable way to reduce violent crime.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050101.
A PLoS Medicine Perspective article by David Bellinger further discusses this study and a related paper on childhood lead exposure and brain volume reduction in adulthood
Study researcher Kim Dietrich can be heard talking about “The Lethal Legacy of Lead”, a brief MP3 about lead exposure and violent crime
Toxtown, an interactive site from the US National Library of Medicine, provides information on environmental health concerns including exposure to lead (in English and Spanish)
The US Environmental Protection Agency provides information on lead in paint, dust, and soil and on protecting children from lead poisoning (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to information on lead poisoning (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about its Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
The UK Health Protection Agency also provides information about lead and its health hazards
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050101
PMCID: PMC2689664  PMID: 18507497
12.  Cesarean Section and Rate of Subsequent Stillbirth, Miscarriage, and Ectopic Pregnancy: A Danish Register-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(7):e1001670.
Louise Kenny and colleagues conduct a population-based cohort study in Denmark to assess the likelihood of stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy following cesarean section compared to women who gave birth by vaginal delivery.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With cesarean section rates increasing worldwide, clarity regarding negative effects is essential. This study aimed to investigate the rate of subsequent stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy following primary cesarean section, controlling for confounding by indication.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based cohort study using Danish national registry data linking various registers. The cohort included primiparous women with a live birth between January 1, 1982, and December 31, 2010 (n = 832,996), with follow-up until the next event (stillbirth, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy) or censoring by live birth, death, emigration, or study end. Cox regression models for all types of cesarean sections, sub-group analyses by type of cesarean, and competing risks analyses for the causes of stillbirth were performed. An increased rate of stillbirth (hazard ratio [HR] 1.14, 95% CI 1.01, 1.28) was found in women with primary cesarean section compared to spontaneous vaginal delivery, giving a theoretical absolute risk increase (ARI) of 0.03% for stillbirth, and a number needed to harm (NNH) of 3,333 women. Analyses by type of cesarean section showed similarly increased rates for emergency (HR 1.15, 95% CI 1.01, 1.31) and elective cesarean (HR 1.11, 95% CI 0.91, 1.35), although not statistically significant in the latter case. An increased rate of ectopic pregnancy was found among women with primary cesarean overall (HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.04, 1.15) and by type (emergency cesarean, HR 1.09, 95% CI 1.03, 1.15, and elective cesarean, HR 1.12, 95% CI 1.03, 1.21), yielding an ARI of 0.1% and a NNH of 1,000 women for ectopic pregnancy. No increased rate of miscarriage was found among women with primary cesarean, with maternally requested cesarean section associated with a decreased rate of miscarriage (HR 0.72, 95% CI 0.60, 0.85). Limitations include incomplete data on maternal body mass index, maternal smoking, fertility treatment, causes of stillbirth, and maternally requested cesarean section, as well as lack of data on antepartum/intrapartum stillbirth and gestational age for stillbirth and miscarriage.
Conclusions
This study found that cesarean section is associated with a small increased rate of subsequent stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy. Underlying medical conditions, however, and confounding by indication for the primary cesarean delivery account for at least part of this increased rate. These findings will assist women and health-care providers to reach more informed decisions regarding mode of delivery.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Globally, increasing numbers of babies are being delivered by cesarean section (a surgical operation in which the baby is delivered through a cut made in the mother's abdomen and womb) instead of naturally through their mother's vagina. In England in 2010, for example, nearly 25% of all babies were delivered by cesarean section (also called C-section) compared to only 2% in the 1950s; in China and some parts of South America cesarean rates are now between 40% and 50%. A cesarean section is usually performed when a vaginal birth would endanger the life of the mother or her unborn child because, for example, the baby is in the wrong position. Some cesareans are performed as emergency procedures, but others are planned in advance when the need for the operation becomes clear during pregnancy (an elective cesarean). Some planned cesarean sections are also undertaken because the mother has requested a cesarean delivery in the absence of any medical reasons for such a delivery.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cesarean sections save lives but do they have any negative impacts on the outcome of subsequent pregnancies? With so many cesarean sections being undertaken, it is important to be sure that the procedure does not increase the rates of subsequent miscarriage, stillbirth, or ectopic pregnancy. Miscarriage—the loss of a fetus (developing baby) that is unable to survive independently—is the commonest complication of early pregnancy, affecting about one in five women who know they are pregnant. Stillbirth is fetal death after about 20–24 weeks of pregnancy; the exact definition of stillbirth varies between countries. About four million stillbirths occur each year worldwide. Ectopic pregnancy—development of the fetus outside the womb—occurs in 1%–2% of all pregnancies. In this population-based cohort study, the researchers investigate the rates of subsequent stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy following a cesarean section among women living in Denmark. A population-based cohort study determines the baseline characteristics of the individuals in a population, and then follows the population over time to see whether specific characteristics are associated with specific outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data for 832,996 women from Danish national registers about their first live birth (including whether they had a cesarean) then followed the women (again using the registers) until they had a stillbirth, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy, or a second live birth. The researchers used these data and statistical models to estimate the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy following a cesarean compared to a spontaneous vaginal delivery after controlling for the possibility that the cesarean was performed because of an indication that might increase the risk of a subsequent event (confounding). Women who had had a cesarean had a 14% increased risk of a stillbirth in their next pregnancy compared to women who had had a vaginal delivery, corresponding to an absolute risk increase of 0.03%. In other words, 3,333 women would need to have a cesarean to result in one extra stillbirth in subsequent pregnancy (a “number needed to harm” of 3,333). Compared to vaginal delivery, having a cesarean increased the risk of a subsequent ectopic pregnancy by 9% (an absolute risk increase of 0.1% and a number needed to harm of 1,000) but did not increase the rate of subsequent miscarriages.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among women living in Denmark, cesarean section is associated with a slightly increased rate of subsequent stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy. Part of this increase can be accounted for by underlying medical conditions and by confounding by the indication for the primary cesarean section. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by limitations in the study such as incomplete data on some factors (for example, the smoking history of the mother) that might have affected the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy, and by misclassification or underreporting of the study outcomes. Given the global increase in cesarean rates, these findings suggest that cesarean delivery is not associated with an increased rate of subsequent stillbirth, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy, an important finding for both expectant mothers and health-care professionals that nonetheless needs to be confirmed in further large-scale studies. Finally, these findings highlight the need for women to consider all their options thoroughly before requesting a cesarean section on non-medical grounds.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001670.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists provides patient fact sheets on cesarean birth, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy
The US-based non-profit Nemours Foundation provides information about cesarean sections, miscarriage and stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients about cesarean section, miscarriage, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cesarean section, miscarriage, stillbirth, and ectopic pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
The UK non-profit organization Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about cesarean delivery, miscarriage, and stillbirth
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001670
PMCID: PMC4077571  PMID: 24983970
13.  A Common Genetic Variant at 15q25 Modifies the Associations of Maternal Smoking during Pregnancy with Fetal Growth: The Generation R Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34584.
Objective
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with fetal growth retardation. We examined whether a common genetic variant at chromosome 15q25 (rs1051730), which is known to be involved in nicotine metabolism, modifies the associations of maternal smoking with fetal growth characteristics.
Methods
This study was performed in 3,563 European mothers participating in a population-based prospective cohort study from early pregnancy onwards. Smoking was assessed by postal questionnaires and fetal growth characteristics were measured by ultrasound examinations in each trimester of pregnancy.
Results
Among mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy (82.9%), maternal rs1051730 was not consistently associated with any fetal growth characteristic. Among mothers who continued smoking during pregnancy (17.1%), maternal rs1051730 was not associated with head circumference. The T-allele of maternal rs1051730 was associated with a smaller second and third trimester fetal femur length [differences −0.23 mm (95%CI −0.45 to −0.00) and −0.41 mm (95%CI −0.69 to −0.13), respectively] and a smaller birth length [difference −2.61 mm (95%CI −5.32 to 0.11)]. The maternal T-allele of rs1051730 was associated with a lower third trimester estimated fetal weight [difference −33 grams (95%CI −55 to −10)], and tended to be associated with birth weight [difference −38 grams (95%CI −89 to 13)]. This association persisted after adjustment for smoking quantity.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that maternal rs1051730 genotype modifies the associations of maternal smoking during pregnancy with impaired fetal growth in length and weight. These results should be considered as hypothesis generating and indicate the need for large-scale genome wide association studies focusing on gene – fetal smoke exposure interactions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034584
PMCID: PMC3319619  PMID: 22496830
14.  Maternal and Paternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Risk of ADHD Symptoms in Offspring: Testing for Intrauterine Effects 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(3):261-268.
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring. It is assumed by many that this association is causal. Others suggest that observed associations are due to unmeasured genetic factors or other confounding factors. The authors compared risks of maternal smoking during pregnancy with those of paternal smoking during pregnancy. With a causal intrauterine effect, no independent association should be observed between paternal smoking and offspring ADHD. If the association is due to confounding factors, risks of offspring ADHD should be of similar magnitudes regardless of which parent smokes. This hypothesis was tested in 8,324 children from a well-characterized United Kingdom prospective cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (data from 1991–2000). Associations between offspring ADHD and maternal and paternal smoking during pregnancy were compared using regression analyses. Offspring ADHD symptoms were associated with exposure to both maternal and paternal smoking during pregnancy (mothers: β = 0.25, 95% confidence interval: 0.18, 0.32; fathers: β = 0.21, 95% confidence interval: 0.15, 0.27). When paternal smoking was examined in the absence of maternal smoking, associations remained and did not appear to be due to passive smoking exposure in utero. These findings suggest that associations between maternal smoking during pregnancy and child ADHD may be due to genetic or household-level confounding rather than to causal intrauterine effects.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwr510
PMCID: PMC3406617  PMID: 22791738
attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity; causality; confounding factors (epidemiology); maternal exposure; paternal exposure; pregnancy; prenatal exposure delayed effects; smoking
15.  Smoking and Early Pregnancy Thyroid Hormone and Anti-Thyroid Antibody Levels in Euthyroid Mothers of the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 
Thyroid  2012;22(9):944-950.
Background
Smokers in the general population have lower thyrotropin (TSH) and higher free triiodothyronine (fT3) and free thyroxine (fT4) concentrations, but the results in pregnant population vary from no effect to a decrease in TSH and fT4 concentrations and an increase in fT3 levels. Our objective was to further evaluate the question of whether there is an association between smoking, before and during pregnancy, with maternal thyroid function during pregnancy and with the risk for subsequent hypothyroidism.
Methods
Our study population was a prospective population-based cohort (N=9362), the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986, with extensive data throughout gestation. The mothers underwent serum sampling in early pregnancy. The samples were assayed for TSH, fT3, fT4, thyroid-peroxidase antibodies (TPO-Ab), and thyroglobulin antibodies (TG-Abs) (n=5805). Mothers with thyroid dysfunction diagnosed before or during pregnancy were excluded, leaving 4837 euthyroid mothers. The smoking status of mothers and fathers were requested by questionnaires during pregnancy. Subsequent maternal morbidity relating to hypothyroidism 20 years after the index pregnancy was evaluated using national registers.
Results
Euthyroid mothers who smoked before, or continued smoking during first trimester of pregnancy, had higher serum fT3 (p<0.001) and lower fT4 (p=0.023) concentrations than nonsmokers. Smoking in the second trimester was associated with higher fT3 (p<0.001) concentrations, but no difference in fT4 concentrations compared with nonsmokers. TG-Abs were less common among smoking than nonsmoking mothers (2.5% vs. 4.7%, p<0.001), but the prevalence of TPO-Ab was similar. Paternal smoking had no independent effect on maternal early pregnancy thyroid hormone or antibody concentrations. The risk of subsequent maternal hypothyroidism after follow-up of 20 years was similar among prepregnancy smokers and nonsmokers.
Conclusions
In euthyroid women, smoking during pregnancy was associated with higher fT3 levels and lower fT4 levels; possibly reflecting smoking-induced changes in peripheral metabolism of thyroid hormones. No differences were found in TSH concentrations between smokers and nonsmokers. Our results differ from those of the general population, which usually have shown smoking-induced thyroidal stimulation. This is possibly due to pregnancy-induced changes in thyroid function. Decreases in fT4 levels among smokers might predispose to hypothyroidism or hypothyroxinemia during pregnancy. Despite these changes in thyroid function, smoking did not increase the woman's risk of subsequent hypothyroidism.
doi:10.1089/thy.2011.0377
PMCID: PMC3429279  PMID: 22873201
16.  Association between Prenatal Exposure to Antiretroviral Therapy and Birth Defects: An Analysis of the French Perinatal Cohort Study (ANRS CO1/CO11) 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001635.
Jeanne Sibiude and colleagues use the French Perinatal Cohort to estimate the prevalence of birth defects in children born to HIV-infected women receiving antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has major benefits during pregnancy, both for maternal health and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Safety issues, including teratogenic risk, need to be evaluated. We estimated the prevalence of birth defects in children born to HIV-infected women receiving ART during pregnancy, and assessed the independent association of birth defects with each antiretroviral (ARV) drug used.
Methods and Findings
The French Perinatal Cohort prospectively enrolls HIV-infected women delivering in 90 centers throughout France. Children are followed by pediatricians until 2 y of age according to national guidelines.
We included 13,124 live births between 1994 and 2010, among which, 42% (n = 5,388) were exposed to ART in the first trimester of pregnancy. Birth defects were studied using both European Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies (EUROCAT) and Metropolitan Atlanta Congenital Defects Program (MACDP) classifications; associations with ART were evaluated using univariate and multivariate logistic regressions. Correction for multiple comparisons was not performed because the analyses were based on hypotheses emanating from previous findings in the literature and the robustness of the findings of the current study. The prevalence of birth defects was 4.4% (95% CI 4.0%–4.7%), according to the EUROCAT classification. In multivariate analysis adjusting for other ARV drugs, maternal age, geographical origin, intravenous drug use, and type of maternity center, a significant association was found between exposure to zidovudine in the first trimester and congenital heart defects: 2.3% (74/3,267), adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 2.2 (95% CI 1.3–3.7), p = 0.003, absolute risk difference attributed to zidovudine +1.2% (95% CI +0.5; +1.9%). Didanosine and indinavir were associated with head and neck defects, respectively: 0.5%, AOR = 3.4 (95% CI 1.1–10.4), p = 0.04; 0.9%, AOR = 3.8 (95% CI 1.1–13.8), p = 0.04. We found a significant association between efavirenz and neurological defects (n = 4) using the MACDP classification: AOR = 3.0 (95% CI 1.1–8.5), p = 0.04, absolute risk +0.7% (95% CI +0.07%; +1.3%). But the association was not significant using the less inclusive EUROCAT classification: AOR = 2.1 (95% CI 0.7–5.9), p = 0.16. No association was found between birth defects and lopinavir or ritonavir with a power >85% for an odds ratio of 1.5, nor for nevirapine, tenofovir, stavudine, or abacavir with a power >70%. Limitations of the present study were the absence of data on termination of pregnancy, stillbirths, tobacco and alcohol intake, and concomitant medication.
Conclusions
We found a specific association between in utero exposure to zidovudine and heart defects; the mechanisms need to be elucidated. The association between efavirenz and neurological defects must be interpreted with caution. For the other drugs not associated with birth defects, the results were reassuring. Finally, whatever the impact that some ARV drugs may have on birth defects, it is surpassed by the major role of ART in the successful prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
AIDS and HIV infection are commonly treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART), a combination of individual drugs that work together to prevent the replication of the virus and further spread of the infection. Starting in the 1990s, studies have shown that ART of HIV-infected women can substantially reduce transmission of the virus to the child during pregnancy and birth. Based on these results, ART was subsequently recommended for pregnant women. Since 2004, ART has been standard therapy for pregnant women with HIV/AIDS in high-income countries, and it is now recommended for all HIV-infected women worldwide. Several different antiviral drug combinations have been shown to be effective and are used to prevent mother-to-infant transmission. However, as with any other drugs taken during pregnancy, there is concern that ART can harm the developing fetus.
Why Was This Study Done?
Several previous studies have assessed the risk that ART taken by a pregnant woman might pose to her developing fetus, but the results have been inconsistent. Animal studies suggested an elevated risk for some drugs but not others. While some clinical studies have reported increases in birth defects in children born to mothers on ART, others have shown no such increase.
The discrepancy may be due to differences between the populations included in the studies and the different methods used to diagnose birth defects. Additional large studies are therefore necessary to obtain more and better evidence on the potential harm of individual anti-HIV drugs to children exposed during pregnancy. So in this study, the authors conducted a large cohort study in France to assess the relationship between different antiretroviral drugs and specific birth defects.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a large national health database known as the French Perinatal Cohort that contains information on HIV-infected mothers who delivered infants in 90 centers throughout France. Pediatricians follow all children, whatever their HIV status, to two years of age, and health statistics are collected according to national health-care guidelines. Analyzing the records, the researchers estimated the rate at which birth defects occurred in children exposed to antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy.
The researchers included 13,124 children who were born alive between 1994 and 2010 and had been exposed to ART during pregnancy. Children exposed in the first trimester of pregnancy, and those exposed during the second or third trimester, were compared to a control group (children not exposed to the drug during the whole pregnancy). Using two birth defect classification systems (EUROCAT and MACDP—MACDP collects more details on disease classification than EUROCAT), the researchers sought to detect a link between the occurrence of birth defects and exposure to individual antiretroviral drugs.
They found a small increase in the risk for heart defects in children with exposure to zidovudine. They also found an association between efavirenz exposure and a small increase in neurological defects, but only when using the MACDP classification system. The authors found no association between other antiretroviral drugs, including nevirapine (acting similar to efavirenz); tenofovir, stavudine, and abacavir (all three acting similar to zidovudine); and lopinavir and ritonavir (proteinase inhibitors) and any type of birth defect.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, overall, the risks of birth defects in children exposed to antiretroviral drugs in utero are small when considering the clear benefit of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. However, where there are safe and effective alternatives, it might be appropriate to avoid use by pregnant women of those drugs that are associated with elevated risks of birth defects.
Worldwide, a large number of children are exposed to zidovudine in utero, and these results suggest (though cannot prove) that these children may be at a slightly higher risk of heart defects. Current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission no longer recommend zidovudine for first-line therapy.
The implications of the higher rate of neurological birth defects observed in infants exposed to efavirenz in the first trimester are less clear. The EUROCAT classification excludes minor neurological abnormalities without serious medical consequences, and so the WHO guidelines that stress the importance of careful clinical follow-up of children with exposure to efavirenz seem adequate, based on the findings of this study. The study is limited by the lack of data on the use of additional medication and alcohol and tobacco use, which could have a direct impact on fetal development, and by the absence of data on birth defects and antiretroviral drug exposure from low-income countries. However, the findings of this study overall are reassuring and suggest that apart from zidovudine and possibly efavirenz, other antiretroviral drugs are not associated with birth defects, and their use during pregnancy does not pose a risk to the infant.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001635.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Mofenson and Watts
The World Health Organization has a webpage on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The US National Institutes of Health provides links to additional information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation also has a webpage on mother-to-child transmission
The French Perinatal Cohort has a webpage describing the cohort and its main publications (in French, with a summary in English)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001635
PMCID: PMC4004551  PMID: 24781315
17.  Partner smoking and maternal cotinine during pregnancy: Implications for negative control methods☆ 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2014;139(100):159-163.
Background
Comparison of the associations of maternal and mother's partner smoking with offspring outcomes is, in theory, a useful method for assessing whether there may be an intrauterine effect of tobacco exposure on these outcomes. However, this approach assumes that the effects of passive smoking from exposure to partner smoking during pregnancy are minimal. We evaluated this assumption using a biochemical measure of tobacco exposure in pregnant women.
Methods
Cotinine levels taken during the first trimester of pregnancy were measured in a sample of 3928 women from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Median cotinine values were compared across categories of smoking heaviness (cigarettes per day) of the women during the first trimester and in non-smoking women by the smoking heaviness of their partner.
Results
Cotinine levels were substantially higher in women who smoked compared to non-smokers (range of medians across smoking heaviness categories: 900–5362 ng/ml versus 20 ng/ml, interquartile range (IQR) (0–63) for non-smokers). In contrast, cotinine levels in non-smoking women were only very weakly related to partner smoking status (range of medians in women with smoking partners: 34–69 ng/ml versus 12 ng/ml, IQR (0–48) in women with non-smoking partners).
Conclusions
Levels of tobacco exposure from partner smoking, as assessed by cotinine, were low in non-smoking pregnant women. This suggests that using mother's partner's smoking as a negative control for investigating intrauterine effects is valid.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.03.012
PMCID: PMC4026952  PMID: 24726428
ALSPAC; Cigarette smoking; Pregnancy; Intrauterine exposure; Negative control
18.  Psychosocial interventions for supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy 
Background
Tobacco smoking in pregnancy remains one of the few preventable factors associated with complications in pregnancy, stillbirth, low birthweight and preterm birth and has serious long-term implications for women and babies. Smoking in pregnancy is decreasing in high-income countries, but is strongly associated with poverty and increasing in low- to middle-income countries.
Objectives
To assess the effects of smoking cessation interventions during pregnancy on smoking behaviour and perinatal health outcomes.
Search methods
In this fifth update, we searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (1 March 2013), checked reference lists of retrieved studies and contacted trial authors to locate additional unpublished data.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials, cluster-randomised trials, randomised cross-over trials, and quasi-randomised controlled trials (with allocation by maternal birth date or hospital record number) of psychosocial smoking cessation interventions during pregnancy.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and trial quality, and extracted data. Direct comparisons were conducted in RevMan, and subgroup analyses and sensitivity analysis were conducted in SPSS.
Main results
Eighty-six trials were included in this updated review, with 77 trials (involving over 29,000 women) providing data on smoking abstinence in late pregnancy.
In separate comparisons, counselling interventions demonstrated a significant effect compared with usual care (27 studies; average risk ratio (RR) 1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19 to 1.75), and a borderline effect compared with less intensive interventions (16 studies; average RR 1.35, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.82). However, a significant effect was only seen in subsets where counselling was provided in conjunction with other strategies. It was unclear whether any type of counselling strategy is more effective than others (one study; RR 1.15, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.53). In studies comparing counselling and usual care (the largest comparison), it was unclear whether interventions prevented smoking relapse among women who had stopped smoking spontaneously in early pregnancy (eight studies; average RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.21). However, a clear effect was seen in smoking abstinence at zero to five months postpartum (10 studies; average RR 1.76, 95% CI 1.05 to 2.95), a borderline effect at six to 11 months (six studies; average RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.77), and a significant effect at 12 to 17 months (two studies, average RR 2.20, 95% CI 1.23 to 3.96), but not in the longer term. In other comparisons, the effect was not significantly different from the null effect for most secondary outcomes, but sample sizes were small.
Incentive-based interventions had the largest effect size compared with a less intensive intervention (one study; RR 3.64, 95% CI 1.84 to 7.23) and an alternative intervention (one study; RR 4.05, 95% CI 1.48 to 11.11).
Feedback interventions demonstrated a significant effect only when compared with usual care and provided in conjunction with other strategies, such as counselling (two studies; average RR 4.39, 95% CI 1.89 to 10.21), but the effect was unclear when compared with a less intensive intervention (two studies; average RR 1.19, 95% CI 0.45 to 3.12).
The effect of health education was unclear when compared with usual care (three studies; average RR 1.51, 95% CI 0.64 to 3.59) or less intensive interventions (two studies; average RR 1.50, 95% CI 0.97 to 2.31).
Social support interventions appeared effective when provided by peers (five studies; average RR 1.49, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.19), but the effect was unclear in a single trial of support provided by partners.
The effects were mixed where the smoking interventions were provided as part of broader interventions to improve maternal health, rather than targeted smoking cessation interventions.
Subgroup analyses on primary outcome for all studies showed the intensity of interventions and comparisons has increased over time, with higher intensity interventions more likely to have higher intensity comparisons. While there was no significant difference, trials where the comparison group received usual care had the largest pooled effect size (37 studies; average RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.25 to 1.44), with lower effect sizes when the comparison group received less intensive interventions (30 studies; average RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.31), or alternative interventions (two studies; average RR 1.26, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.53). More recent studies included in this update had a lower effect size (20 studies; average RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.59), I2= 3%, compared to those in the previous version of the review (50 studies; average RR 1.50, 95% CI 1.30 to 1.73). There were similar effect sizes in trials with biochemically validated smoking abstinence (49 studies; average RR 1.43, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.67) and those with self-reported abstinence (20 studies; average RR 1.48, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.87). There was no significant difference between trials implemented by researchers (efficacy studies), and those implemented by routine pregnancy staff (effectiveness studies), however the effect was unclear in three dissemination trials of counselling interventions where the focus on the intervention was at an organisational level (average RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.37 to 2.50). The pooled effects were similar in interventions provided for women with predominantly low socio-economic status (44 studies; average RR 1.41, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.66), compared to other women (26 studies; average RR 1.47, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.79); though the effect was unclear in interventions among women from ethnic minority groups (five studies; average RR 1.08, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.40) and aboriginal women (two studies; average RR 0.40, 95% CI 0.06 to 2.67). Importantly, pooled results demonstrated that women who received psychosocial interventions had an 18% reduction in preterm births (14 studies; average RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.96), and infants born with low birthweight (14 studies; average RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.94). There did not appear to be any adverse effects from the psychosocial interventions, and three studies measured an improvement in women’s psychological wellbeing.
Authors’ conclusions
Psychosocial interventions to support women to stop smoking in pregnancy can increase the proportion of women who stop smoking in late pregnancy, and reduce low birthweight and preterm births.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001055.pub4
PMCID: PMC4022453  PMID: 24154953
19.  Weight growth in infants born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1995;310(6982):768-771.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether maternal smoking during pregnancy causes impairment in growth after birth. DESIGN--Longitudinal study. SETTING--Six medical university centres of six towns of north, central, and south Italy. SUBJECTS--12,987 babies (10,238 born from non-smoking mothers, 2276 from mothers smoking one to nine cigarettes a day, and 473 from mothers smoking > or = 10 cigarettes a day) entered the study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Difference in weight gain between children born to smoking mothers and those born to non-smoking mothers. Weight was measured at birth and at 3 and 6 months of age. Maternal smoking habit was derived from interview on third or fourth day after delivery. RESULTS--Compared with children born to mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy, the birth weights of children born to mothers who smoked up to nine cigarettes a day were 88 g (girls) and 107 g (boys) lower; in children born to mothers who smoked > or = 10 cigarettes a day weights were 168 g and 247 g lower. At six months of age for the first group the mean weight for girls was 9 g (95% confidence interval -47 g to 65 g) higher and for boys 64 g (-118 g to -10 g) lower than that of children born to mothers who did not smoke. The corresponding figures for the second group were 28 g (-141 g to 85 g) lower for girls and 24 g (-136 g to 88 g) lower for boys. CONCLUSIONS--The deficits of weight at birth in children born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are overcome by 6 months of age. These deficits are probably not permanent when smoking habit during pregnancy is not associated with other unfavourable variables (such as lower socioeconomic class).
PMCID: PMC2549163  PMID: 7711580
20.  Features of infant exposure to tobacco smoke in a cohort study in Tasmania. 
STUDY OBJECTIVES: To document changes in smoking style around infants over time and to identify factors associated with the smoking hygiene of mothers and others. DESIGN: A population based cohort study. SETTING: Population based, involving 22% of live births in Tasmania, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: From 1 May 1988 to 30 April, 1993, 6109 infants and their mothers (89% of eligible infants) participated in the hospital and home interview of the cohort study. Infants eligible for cohort entry were those assessed at birth to be at a higher risk of SIDS. MAIN RESULTS: The overall proportion of mothers who smoked during pregnancy and postnatally did not decline. Increasing trends were found for mothers and others not smoking in the same room as baby or while holding or feeding the baby, significant over the five year period. Good smoking hygiene (mother not smoking in the same room as baby) was positively associated with--first birth (OR = 1.74 (1.30, 2.33)), low birth weight (1.69 (1.27, 2.23)), being born after 1 May 1991 (1.67 (1.33, 2.11)), and private health insurance status (1.39 (1.02, 1.90)). Good smoking hygiene was negatively associated with maternal smoking during pregnancy (0.50 (0.31, 0.80)), intention to bottle feed (0.62 (0.49, 0.78)), the level of maternal postnatal smoking, increasing numbers of smokers in the household, and parents cohabiting but unmarried. A similar analysis was conducted for other household residents who smoked. CONCLUSIONS: Changes in maternal smoking prevalence have been small. The exposure of infants to tobacco smoke postnatally has decreased significantly, although a large proportion of infants are still exposed to tobacco smoke. The identification of the above parental and infant factors associated with good smoking hygiene should be useful for health education planning.
PMCID: PMC1060202  PMID: 8762352
21.  Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy Predicts Adult Offspring Cardiovascular Risk Factors – Evidence from a Community-Based Large Birth Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41106.
Background
Maternal smoking during pregnancy is associated with offspring obesity. However, little is known about whether maternal smoking in pregnancy predicts other offspring cardiovascular risk factors including waist circumference (WC), waist-hip-ratio (WHR), pulse rate (PR), systolic (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).
Methods
We studied a sub-sample of 2038 (50% males) young adults who were born in Brisbane, Australia to investigate the prospective association of maternal smoking during pregnancy with young adult cardiovascular risk factors. We compared offspring mean BMI, WC, WHR, SBP, DBP and PR and the risk of being overweight and obese at 21 years by three mutually exclusive categories of maternal smoking status defined as never smoked, smoked before and/or after pregnancy but not in pregnancy or smoked during pregnancy and other times.
Results
Offspring of mothers who smoked during pregnancy had greater mean BMI, WC, WHR and PR and they were at greater risk of being obese at 21 years compared to offspring of those mothers who never smoked. The mean of these risk factors among those adult offspring whose mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy, but who then smoked at other times in the child's life, were similar to those mothers who never smoked. These results were independent of a range of potential confounding factors.
Conclusion
The findings of this study suggest a prospective association of maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring obesity as well as PR in adulthood, and reinforce the need to persuade pregnant women not to smoke.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041106
PMCID: PMC3400588  PMID: 22829913
22.  Physical Aggression During Early Childhood: Trajectories and Predictors 
Pediatrics  2004;114(1):e43-e50.
Objectives
Physical aggression in children is a major public health problem. Not only is childhood physical aggression a precursor of the physical and mental health problems that will be visited on victims, but also aggressive children themselves are at higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse, accidents, violent crimes, depression, suicide attempts, spouse abuse, and neglectful and abusive parenting. Furthermore, violence commonly results in serious injuries to the perpetrators themselves. Although it is unusual for young children to harm seriously the targets of their physical aggression, studies of physical aggression during infancy indicate that by 17 months of age, the large majority of children are physically aggressive toward siblings, peers, and adults. This study aimed, first, to identify the trajectories of physical aggression during early childhood and, second, to identify antecedents of high levels of physical aggression early in life. Such antecedents could help to understand better the developmental origins of violence later in life and to identify targets for preventive interventions.
Methods
A random population sample of 572 families with a 5-month-old newborn was recruited. Assessments of physical aggression frequency were obtained from mothers at 17, 30, and 42 months after birth. Using a semiparametric, mixture model, distinct clusters of physical aggression trajectories were identified. Multivariate logit regression analysis was then used to identify which family and child characteristics, before 5 months of age, predict individuals on a high-level physical aggression trajectory from 17 to 42 months after birth.
Results
Three trajectories of physical aggression were identified. The first was composed of children who displayed little or no physical aggression. These individuals were estimated to account for ~28% of the sample. The largest group, estimated at ~58% of the sample, followed a rising trajectory of modest aggression. Finally, a group, estimated to comprise ~14% of the sample, followed a rising trajectory of high physical aggression. Best predictors before or at birth of the high physical aggression trajectory group, controlling for the levels of the other risk factors, were having young siblings (odds ratio [OR]: 4.00; confidence interval [CI]: 2.2–7.4), mothers with high levels of antisocial behavior before the end of high school (OR: 3.1; CI: 1.1–8.6), mothers who started having children early (OR: 3.1; CI: 1.4–6.8), families with low income (OR: 2.6; CI: 1.3–5.2), and mothers who smoked during pregnancy (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.1–4.1). Best predictors at 5 months of age were mothers’ coercive parenting behavior (OR: 2.3; CI: 1.1–4.7) and family dysfunction (OR: 2.2; CI: 1.2–4.1). The OR for a high-aggression trajectory was 10.9 for children whose mother reported both high levels of antisocial behavior and early childbearing.
Conclusions
Most children have initiated the use of physical aggression during infancy, and most will learn to use alternatives in the following years before they enter primary school. Humans seem to learn to regulate the use of physical aggression during the preschool years. Those who do not, seem to be at highest risk of serious violent behavior during adolescence and adulthood. Results from the present study indicate that children who are at highest risk of not learning to regulate physical aggression in early childhood have mothers with a history of antisocial behavior during their school years, mothers who start childbearing early and who smoke during pregnancy, and parents who have low income and have serious problems living together. All of these variables are relatively easy to measure during pregnancy. Preventive interventions should target families with high-risk profiles on these variables. Experiments with such programs have shown long-term impacts on child abuse and child antisocial behavior. However, these impacts were not observed in families with physical violence. The problem may be that the prevention programs that were provided did not specifically target the parents’ control over their physical aggression and their skills in teaching their infant not to be physically aggressive. Most intervention programs to prevent youth physical aggression have targeted school-age children. If children normally learn not to be physically aggressive during the preschool years, then one would expect that interventions that target infants who are at high risk of chronic physical aggression would have more of an impact than interventions 5 to 10 years later, when physical aggression has become a way of life.
PMCID: PMC3283570  PMID: 15231972 CAMSID: cams2126
physical aggression; early childhood; trajectories; predictors
23.  Reproductive Outcomes Following Ectopic Pregnancy: Register-Based Retrospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001243.
Using Scottish national registry data, Sohinee Bhattacharya and colleagues investigate pregnancy outcomes following ectopic pregnancy in comparison to livebirth, miscarriage, or termination in a first pregnancy.
Background
We aimed to compare reproductive outcomes following ectopic pregnancy (EP) versus livebirth, miscarriage, or termination in a first pregnancy.
Methods And Findings
A retrospective cohort study design was used. Scottish national data on all women whose first pregnancy occurred between 1981 and 2000 were linked to records of a subsequent pregnancy. The exposed cohort comprised women with an EP in their first pregnancy. There were three unexposed cohorts: women with livebirth, miscarriage, and termination of their first pregnancies. Any differences in rates of second pregnancy, livebirth, EP, miscarriage, or terminations and complications of a second ongoing pregnancy and delivery were assessed among the different exposure groups. A total of 2,969 women had an initial EP; 667,299 had a livebirth, 39,705 women miscarried, and 78,697 terminated their first pregnancies. Women with an initial EP had an increased chance of another pregnancy within 2 years (adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) 2.76 [95% CI 2.58–2.95]) or after 6 years (AHR 1.57 [95% CI 1.29–1.91]) compared to women with a livebirth. In comparison with women with an initial miscarriage, women who had an EP had a lower chance of a second pregnancy (AHR 0.53 [95% CI 0.50–0.56]). Compared to women with an initial termination, women with an EP had an increased chance of a second pregnancy (AHR 2.38 [95% CI 2.23–2.55]) within 2 years. Women with an initial EP suffered an increased risk of another EP compared to women with a livebirth (AHR 13.0 [95% CI 11.63–16.86]), miscarriage (AHR 6.07 [95% CI 4.83–7.62]), or termination (AHR 12.84 [95% CI 10.07–16.37]). Perinatal complications in a pregnancy following EP were not significantly higher than those in primigravidae or in women with a previous miscarriage or termination.
Conclusion
Women with an initial EP have a lower chance of conception than those who miscarry but an increased risk of a repeat EP in comparison with all three comparison groups. A major limitation of this study was the inability to separate women using contraception from those who were intending to conceive.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo (fertilized egg) implants outside the uterine cavity, usually in the fallopian tubes but sometimes in the cervix, ovaries, or abdomen. The prevalence for this condition is between 1%–2% of all pregnancies, and risk factors are thought to include pelvic infection, smoking, previous pelvic surgery, and use of certain types of intrauterine contraceptive devices. Ectopic pregnancies are potentially life threatening because as the fetus grows, it can lead to tubal rupture and abdominal bleeding—for example, in the UK, ectopic pregnancies are responsible for almost three-quarters of early pregnancy-related deaths. However, due to improvements in early diagnosis, in high income countries, deaths from ectopic pregnancies have become increasingly rare.
Why Was This Study Done?
Having an ectopic pregnancy can have serious implications for future fertility and subsequent pregnancies but to date, there is little information on reproductive outcomes in women who have had an ectopic pregnancy. So in this study, the researchers used a population-based cohort of women in Scotland to examine future reproductive outcomes in women who had an initial ectopic pregnancy and then compare these outcomes to those in women following a successful (live birth) or unsuccessful (miscarriage or termination) intrauterine pregnancy.
What Did The Researchers Do And Find?
The researchers used a national database (The Scottish Morbidity Record) and hospital discharge information to identify women who had ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, terminations, or on-going pregnancies between 1981–2000. Then, using unique linking identifiers, they were able to examine the outcomes of subsequent pregnancies and conducted a statistical analysis to investigate whether the first pregnancy outcome had any effect on second pregnancy outcomes.
 The researchers found that during the time period studied, in their first pregnancy, 2,969 women had an ectopic pregnancy, 39,705 women miscarried, 78,697 women underwent termination, and the majority, 667,299, gave birth to a live infant. The researchers then found that compared to women with an initial live birth, women with an ectopic pregnancy were 2.76 times more likely to conceive a second pregnancy within two years. However, compared to women whose first pregnancies ended in miscarriage, women with an initial ectopic pregnancy were significantly less likely to conceive a second time but had an increased chance of a second pregnancy within two years compared to women who terminated their first pregnancy. Importantly, the researchers found that women with an initial ectopic pregnancy had a higher risk of a further ectopic pregnancy compared to all the other groups of women. Furthermore, these women had a significantly higher risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and emergency cesarean delivery in their next continuing pregnancy compared to women who had a previous live birth. However, these risks were not significantly higher than women who had an early loss in a first pregnancy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that women with an initial ectopic pregnancy have a lower chance of conception than those who miscarry and also have an increased risk of a repeat ectopic pregnancy compared to women who experience miscarriage, termination, or a live birth in their first pregnancy. However, as the researchers did not have any information on contraception use, a major limitation of this study is the inability to separate women using contraception from those who were intending to conceive—women who experienced an ectopic pregnancy may not want to conceive again after a traumatic experience rather than being unable to conceive because of tubal damage. However, the results of this study may help doctors to counsel women with an ectopic pregnancy at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment, and in those willing to conceive again, offer follow-up to discuss future fertility and possible risks of subsequent pregnancy. Further research will help to investigate whether the site of ectopic pregnancy affects future reproductive outcomes.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001243.
The American Pregnancy Association and the UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices give information on ectopic pregnancy
The UK nonprofit organization Ectopic Pregnancy Trust provides support for individuals affected by ectopic pregnancy
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001243
PMCID: PMC3378618  PMID: 22723747
24.  Smoking During Consecutive Pregnancies Among Primiparous Women in the Population-Based Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2012;15(2):428-434.
Introduction:
This study investigated changes in smoking behavior across pregnancies in a sample of 10,890 primiparous women participating in the prospective population-based Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) in order to identify risk factors that may inhibit smoking cessation and promote smoking during a woman’s second pregnancy.
Methods:
Registry information regarding smoking, age, marital status, parity, and year of birth was applied, in addition to questionnaire assessments of own and partner’s smoking behavior, educational attainment, and symptoms of anxiety and depression at weeks 17 and 30 of gestation from both pregnancies.
Results:
The vast majority did not smoke in either of the pregnancies, and more women quit smoking than relapsed to smoking in their second pregnancy. Among smokers in the first pregnancy, 30.9% quit smoking by their second pregnancy. Women living with a nonsmoking partner or a partner who quit between pregnancies were more likely to quit smoking, as were women smoking occasionally in their first pregnancy. Symptoms of psychological distress and increasing number of years between pregnancies were negatively associated with smoking cessation. Among women not smoking in their first pregnancy, 2.3% did smoke during their second. Living with a smoking partner, low educational attainment, symptoms of psychological distress, and increasing number of years between pregnancies were all associated with smoking during the second pregnancy.
Conclusions:
These findings, linking smoking behavior to changes taking place between pregnancies, offer new and additional insight into modifiable risk factors that may help facilitate more targeted smoking cessation interventions for women at the highest risk.
doi:10.1093/ntr/nts147
PMCID: PMC3611994  PMID: 22855885
25.  A Risk Prediction Model for the Assessment and Triage of Women with Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy in Low-Resourced Settings: The miniPIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk) Multi-country Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001589.
Beth Payne and colleagues use a risk prediction model, the Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk (miniPIERS) to help inform the clinical assessment and triage of women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in low-resourced settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia are leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity, particularly in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). We developed the miniPIERS risk prediction model to provide a simple, evidence-based tool to identify pregnant women in LMICs at increased risk of death or major hypertensive-related complications.
Methods and Findings
From 1 July 2008 to 31 March 2012, in five LMICs, data were collected prospectively on 2,081 women with any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy admitted to a participating centre. Candidate predictors collected within 24 hours of admission were entered into a step-wise backward elimination logistic regression model to predict a composite adverse maternal outcome within 48 hours of admission. Model internal validation was accomplished by bootstrapping and external validation was completed using data from 1,300 women in the Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk (fullPIERS) dataset. Predictive performance was assessed for calibration, discrimination, and stratification capacity. The final miniPIERS model included: parity (nulliparous versus multiparous); gestational age on admission; headache/visual disturbances; chest pain/dyspnoea; vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain; systolic blood pressure; and dipstick proteinuria. The miniPIERS model was well-calibrated and had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC ROC) of 0.768 (95% CI 0.735–0.801) with an average optimism of 0.037. External validation AUC ROC was 0.713 (95% CI 0.658–0.768). A predicted probability ≥25% to define a positive test classified women with 85.5% accuracy. Limitations of this study include the composite outcome and the broad inclusion criteria of any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. This broad approach was used to optimize model generalizability.
Conclusions
The miniPIERS model shows reasonable ability to identify women at increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes associated with the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. It could be used in LMICs to identify women who would benefit most from interventions such as magnesium sulphate, antihypertensives, or transportation to a higher level of care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Each year, ten million women develop pre-eclampsia or a related hypertensive (high blood pressure) disorder of pregnancy and 76,000 women die as a result. Globally, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy cause around 12% of maternal deaths—deaths of women during or shortly after pregnancy. The mildest of these disorders is gestational hypertension, high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational hypertension does not usually harm the mother or her unborn child and resolves after delivery but up to a quarter of women with this condition develop pre-eclampsia, a combination of hypertension and protein in the urine (proteinuria). Women with mild pre-eclampsia may not have any symptoms—the condition is detected during antenatal checks—but more severe pre-eclampsia can cause headaches, blurred vision, and other symptoms, and can lead to eclampsia (fits), multiple organ failure, and death of the mother and/or her baby. The only “cure” for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby as soon as possible but women are sometimes given antihypertensive drugs to lower their blood pressure or magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures.
Why Was This Study Done?
Women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are more likely to develop complications of pre-eclampsia than women in high-income countries and most of the deaths associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy occur in LMICs. The high burden of illness and death in LMICs is thought to be primarily due to delays in triage (the identification of women who are or may become severely ill and who need specialist care) and delays in transporting these women to facilities where they can receive appropriate care. Because there is a shortage of health care workers who are adequately trained in the triage of suspected cases of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in many LMICs, one way to improve the situation might be to design a simple tool to identify women at increased risk of complications or death from hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Here, the researchers develop miniPIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of RiSk), a clinical risk prediction model for adverse outcomes among women with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy suitable for use in community and primary health care facilities in LMICs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data on candidate predictors of outcome that are easy to collect and/or measure in all health care settings and that are associated with pre-eclampsia from women admitted with any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy to participating centers in five LMICs to build a model to predict death or a serious complication such as organ damage within 48 hours of admission. The miniPIERS model included parity (whether the woman had been pregnant before), gestational age (length of pregnancy), headache/visual disturbances, chest pain/shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding with abdominal pain, systolic blood pressure, and proteinuria detected using a dipstick. The model was well-calibrated (the predicted risk of adverse outcomes agreed with the observed risk of adverse outcomes among the study participants), it had a good discriminatory ability (it could separate women who had a an adverse outcome from those who did not), and it designated women as being at high risk (25% or greater probability of an adverse outcome) with an accuracy of 85.5%. Importantly, external validation using data collected in fullPIERS, a study that developed a more complex clinical prediction model based on data from women attending tertiary hospitals in high-income countries, confirmed the predictive performance of miniPIERS.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the miniPIERS model performs reasonably well as a tool to identify women at increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Because miniPIERS only includes simple-to-measure personal characteristics, symptoms, and signs, it could potentially be used in resource-constrained settings to identify the women who would benefit most from interventions such as transportation to a higher level of care. However, further external validation of miniPIERS is needed using data collected from women living in LMICs before the model can be used during routine antenatal care. Moreover, the value of miniPIERS needs to be confirmed in implementation projects that examine whether its potential translates into clinical improvements. For now, though, the model could provide the basis for an education program to increase the knowledge of women, families, and community health care workers in LMICs about the signs and symptoms of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001589.
The World Health Organization provides guidelines for the management of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in low-resourced settings
The Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program provides information on pre-eclampsia and eclampsia targeted to low-resourced settings along with a tool-kit for LMIC providers
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides information about high blood pressure in pregnancy and a guide to lowering blood pressure in pregnancy
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about pre-eclampsia
The US not-for profit organization Preeclampsia Foundation provides information about all aspects of pre-eclampsia; its website includes some personal stories
The UK charity Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure and pregnancy (in English and Spanish); the MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a video about pre-eclampsia (also in English and Spanish)
More information about miniPIERS and about fullPIERS is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001589
PMCID: PMC3897359  PMID: 24465185

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