To investigate the effect of helminth infections and their treatment during pregnancy on HIV load, we conducted a 2×2 factorial randomised controlled trial of albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda
Two hundred and sixty-four HIV-infected women from the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447) were included in this analysis. Women were tested for helminth infections at enrolment and mean HIV load was compared between infected and uninfected groups. The effect of anthelminthic treatment on HIV load was evaluated at six weeks post-treatment and at delivery using linear regression and adjusting for enrolment viral load.
Hookworm and Trichuris infections were associated with higher mean viral load at enrolment (adjusted mean difference 0.24log10 copies/ml, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.01 to 0.47, p=0.03 and 0.37log10 copies/ml, 95%CI: 0.00 to 0.74, p=0.05, respectively). There were no associations between viral load and other helminth species. There was some evidence that albendazole reduced viral load at six weeks post-treatment (adjusted mean difference −0.17, 95% CI: −0.36 to 0.01, p=0.07), however this effect did not differ according to mother’s hookworm infection status and had diminished at delivery (adjusted mean difference −0.11, 95% CI: −0.28 to 0.07, p=0.23). There was no effect of praziquantel treatment on HIV load at any time point.
Infection with some soil-transmitted helminth species is associated with increased HIV load in pregnancy. Treatment with albendazole causes a small decrease in HIV load, however this may not represent a direct effect of worm removal.
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
Allergy is commoner in developed than in developing countries. Chronic worm infections show inverse associations with allergy, and prenatal exposures may be critical to allergy risk.
To determine whether anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy increases the risk of allergy in infancy.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on treatment in pregnancy with albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo was conducted in Uganda, with a 2 × 2 factorial design; 2507 women were enrolled; infants’ allergy events were recorded prospectively. The main outcome was doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema.
Worms were detected in 68% of women before treatment. Doctor-diagnosed infantile eczema incidence was 10.4/100 infant years. Maternal albendazole treatment was associated with a significantly increased risk of eczema [Cox HR (95% CI), p: 1.82 (1.26–2.64), 0.002]; this effect was slightly stronger among infants whose mothers had no albendazole-susceptible worms than among infants whose mothers had such worms, although this difference was not statistically significant. Praziquantel showed no effect overall but was associated with increased risk among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni [2.65 (1.16–6.08), interaction p = 0.02]. In a sample of infants, skin prick test reactivity and allergen-specific IgE were both associated with doctor-diagnosed eczema, indicating atopic aetiology. Albendazole was also strongly associated with reported recurrent wheeze [1.58 (1.13–2.22), 0.008]; praziquantel showed no effect.
The detrimental effects of treatment suggest that exposure to maternal worm infections in utero may protect against eczema and wheeze in infancy. The results for albendazole are also consistent with a direct drug effect. Further studies are required to investigate mechanisms of these effects, possible benefits of worms or worm products in primary prevention of allergy, and the possibility that routine deworming during pregnancy may promote allergic disease in the offspring.
albendazole; praziquantel; worms; infantile eczema; pregnancy; clinical trial
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Helminth infections during pregnancy may be associated with adverse outcomes, including maternal anemia, low birth weight, and perinatal mortality. Deworming during pregnancy has therefore been strongly advocated, but its benefits have not been rigorously evaluated.
In Entebbe, Uganda, 2507 pregnant women were recruited to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating albendazole and praziquantel in a 2 × 2 factorial design [ISRCTN32849447]. Hematinics and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine for presumptive treatment of malaria were provided routinely. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were recorded. Analyses were by intention to treat.
At enrollment, 68% of women had helminths, 45% had hookworm, 18% had Schistosoma mansoni infection; 40% were anemic (hemoglobin level, <11.2 g/dL). At delivery, 35% were anaemic; there was no overall effect of albendazole (odds ratio [OR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79–1.15) or praziquantel (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.83–1.21) on maternal anemia, but there was a suggestion of benefit of albendazole among women with moderate to heavy hookworm (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.21–0.98; P = .15 for interaction). There was no effect of either anthelminthic treatment on mean birth weight (difference in mean associated with albendazole: −0.00 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg; difference in mean associated with praziquantel: −0.01 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg) or on proportion of low birth weight. Anthelminthic use during pregnancy showed no effect on perinatal mortality or congenital anomalies.
In our study area, where helminth prevalence was high but infection intensity was low, there was no overall effect of anthelminthic use during pregnancy on maternal anemia, birth weight, perinatal mortality, or congenital anomalies. The possible benefit of albendazole against anemia in pregnant women with heavy hookworm infection warrants further investigation.
Maternal schistosomiasis and filariasis have been shown to influence infant responses to neonatal bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation but the effects of maternal hookworm, and of de-worming in pregnancy, are unknown.
In Entebbe, Uganda, we conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a single dose of 400 mg of albendazole in the second trimester of pregnancy. Neonates received BCG. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin (IL)-5 responses to a mycobacterial antigen (crude culture filtrate proteins (CFP) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis) were measured in a whole blood assay. We analysed results for binary variables using χ2 tests and logistic regression. We analysed continuous variables using Wilcoxon's tests.
Maternal hookworm was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to CFP (adjusted odds ratio for IFN-γ > median response: 0.14 (95% confidence interval 0.02–0.83, p = 0.021). Conversely, maternal hookworm was associated with subsequent increased IFN-γ responses in their one-year-old infants (adjusted OR 17.65 (1.20–258.66; p = 0.013)). Maternal albendazole tended to reduce these effects.
Untreated hookworm infection in pregnancy was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to mycobacterial antigens, but increased responses in their infants one year after BCG immunisation. The mechanisms of these effects, and their implications for protective immunity remain, to be determined.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
It is suggested that helminths, particularly hookworm and schistosomiasis, may be important causes of anaemia in pregnancy. We assessed the associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia (haemoglobin >8.0 g/dl and <11.2 g/dl) and helminths, malaria and HIV among 2507 otherwise healthy pregnant women at enrolment to a trial of deworming in pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda. The prevalence of anaemia was 39.7%. The prevalence of hookworm was 44.5%, Mansonella perstans 21.3%, Schistosoma mansoni 18.3%, Strongyloides 12.3%, Trichuris 9.1%, Ascaris 2.3%, asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia 10.9% and HIV 11.9%. Anaemia showed little association with the presence of any helminth, but showed a strong association with malaria (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.22, 95% CI 2.43–4.26) and HIV (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.90–3.19). There was a weak association between anaemia and increasing hookworm infection intensity. Thus, although highly prevalent, helminths showed little association with mild-to-moderate anaemia in this population, but HIV and malaria both showed a strong association. This result may relate to relatively good nutrition and low helminth infection intensity. These findings are pertinent to estimating the disease burden of helminths and other infections in pregnancy. [Clinical Trial No. ISRCTN32849447]
Anaemia; Helminth; Pregnancy; HIV; Malaria; Uganda
Helminth infections and malaria are widespread in the tropics. Recent studies suggest helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria. If confirmed, this could be particularly important during pregnancy-induced immunosuppression.
To evaluate the geographical distribution of Plasmodium falciparum-helminth co-infection, and associations between parasite species in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda.
A cross-sectional study was conducted at baseline in a trial of anti-helminthics during pregnancy. Helminth and P.falciparum infections were quantified in 2507 asymptomatic women; socio-demographic and geographical details were recorded.
Hookworm and Mansonella perstans were associated with P.falciparum but the effect of hookworm was seen only in the absence of M.perstans (OR for P.falciparum, adjusted for age, tribe, socioeconomic status, HIV and location: hookworm without M.perstans 1.53 (95% CI 1.09-2.14); M.perstans without hookworm 2.33 (1.47-3.69), both hookworm and M.perstans, 1.85 (1.24-2.76)). No association was observed between Schistosoma mansoni, Trichuris or Strongyloides and P.falciparum.
Hookworm-P.falciparum and M.perstans-P.falciparum co-infection amongst pregnant women in Entebbe is more common than expected by chance. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism of this association. Helminth-induced increased susceptibility to P.falciparum could have important consequences for pregnancy outcome and responses to malaria in infancy.
Malaria; Helminth; Hookworm; Mansonella perstans; Plasmodium falciparum; Co-Infection; Spatial; Geographic Factors; Pregnancy; Uganda
Offspring of women with schistosomiasis may exhibit immune responsiveness to schistosomes due to in utero sensitisation or trans-placental transfer of antibodies. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy boosts maternal immune responses to schistosome antigens and reduces worm burden. Effects of praziquantel treatment during pregnancy on responses among offspring are unknown.
In a trial of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy in Uganda (ISRCTN32849447; http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN32849447/elliott), offspring of women with Schistosoma mansoni were examined for cytokine and antibody responses to schistosome worm (SWA) and egg (SEA) antigen, in cord blood and at age one year. Relationships to maternal responses and pre-treatment infection intensities were examined, and responses were compared between the offspring of women who did, or did not receive praziquantel treatment during pregnancy.
Of 388 S. mansoni-infected women studied, samples were obtained at age one year from 215 of their infants. Stool examination for S. mansoni eggs was negative for all infants. Cord and infant samples were characterised by very low cytokine production in response to schistosome antigens with the exception of cord IL-10 responses, which were substantial. Cord and infant cytokine responses showed no association with maternal responses. As expected, cord blood levels of immunoglobulin (Ig) G to SWA and SEA were high and correlated with maternal antibodies. However, by age one year IgG levels had waned and were hardly detectable. Praziquantel treatment during pregnancy showed no effect on cytokine responses or antibodies levels to SWA or SEA either in cord blood or at age one year, except for IgG1 to SWA, which was elevated in infants of treated mothers, reflecting maternal levels. There was some evidence that maternal infection intensity was positively associated with cord blood IL-5 and IL-13 responses to SWA, and IL-5 responses to SEA, and that this association was modified by treatment with praziquantel.
Despite strong effects on maternal infection intensity and maternal immune responses, praziquantel treatment of infected women during pregnancy had no effect on anti-schistosome immune responses among offspring by age one year. Whether the treatment will impact upon the offspring's responses on exposure to primary schistosome infection remains to be elucidated.
To assess the reliability of maternally recalled birthweight and size in Entebbe, Uganda.
The study population comprised 404 mothers, who were participants in the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (EMaBS). Mothers were recruited to EMaBS during antenatal care, maternal characteristics were recorded during pregnancy, and birthweight was recorded at delivery. Four to seven years after delivery, mothers were asked to recall the child’s birthweight and size. Their responses were compared with the birthweight recorded in the EMaBS database.
Of 404 interviewed mothers, 303 (75%) were able to give an estimate of birthweight and for 265 of these EMaBS data on recorded birthweights were available. Women who were educated and whose children had low birth order were more likely to be able to give an estimate: 37 (14%) recalled the exact recorded birthweight; a further 52 (20%) were accurate to within 0.1 kg of the recorded weight. On average, mothers overestimated birthweight by 0.06 kg (95% CI: 0.00–0.13 kg, P = 0.04). Recalled and recorded birthweights showed moderate agreement with an intraclass correlation coefficient of 0.64. Four hundered mothers gave an estimate of birth size: the sensitivity and specificity of recalled birth size for classifying low birthweight were 76% (95% CI: 50–93%) and 70% (95% CI: 65–75%), respectively.
Mothers’ recall of birthweight was not precise but in absence of other data, recall of birthweight and size may have some value in epidemiological studies in these settings.
birthweight; reliability; validity; uganda
Public health interventions based on distribution of anthelminthic drugs against lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and schistosomiasis have been implemented separately to date. A better use of available resources might be facilitated by a more coordinated approach to control such infections, including the possibility of co-administering the three recommended anthelminthic drugs through a single, large-scale intervention.
Ivermectin, albendazole and praziquantel were co-administered to 5,055 children and adults living in areas endemic for LF, STH and schistosomiasis in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, during a pilot intervention aimed at elucidating and quantifying possible side-effects. Subsequently, these drugs were co-administered to about 700,000 individuals during a countrywide intervention targeting a large part of the total population of Zanzibar. Passive and active surveillance measures carried out during both interventions showed that side-effects attributable to the three drugs given at the same time were mild and self-limiting events.
Our data suggest that co-administration of ivermectin, albendazole and praziquantel is safe in areas where lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and schistosomiasis are co-endemic and where several rounds of treatment with one or two drugs have been implemented in the past. Passive surveillance measures, however, should be continued and detection, management and reporting of possible side-effects should be considered a key component of any health intervention administering drugs.
This paper describes how the use of three drugs which are used separately in mass drug distribution programmes when given together appear safe for use in large populations which have been previously treated with the same drugs separately (Mectizan [ivermectin], albendazole and praziquantel). The target diseases—lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted worms and schistosomiasis—were prevalent in Zanzibar up to 2000 but have been largely controlled by mass drug administration. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, with the support of WHO, initiated a small scale trial in a population of triple therapy in over 5,000 people initially in two sites, and having found there were no severe adverse events associated with the combined treatment then upscaled to treat the whole of the eligible population of over 700,000. Similarly, there were no severe adverse events. This is the first time the three drugs have been used together at the same time at scale in Africa and provide a basis for expansion of integrated preventive chemotherapy of helminths (worms). The next steps need to be initiated in populations which have heavier worm loads and such interventions need to be subject to close monitoring and ethical review.
As there is a scarcity of evidence on potential hazards and preventive factors for infantile eczema operating in the prenatal period, the main goal of this study was to assess the role of prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the occurrence of infant eczema jointly with the possible modulating effect of maternal fish consumption.
The study sample consisted of 469 women enrolled during pregnancy, who gave birth to term babies (>36 weeks of gestation). Among all pregnant women recruited, personal measurements of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were performed over 48 h in the second trimester of pregnancy. After delivery, every 3 months in the first year of the newborn's life, a detailed, standardized, face-to-face interview was administered to each mother, in the process of which a trained interviewer recorded any history of infantile eczema and data on potential environmental hazards. The estimated risk of eczema related to higher prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5 >53.0 μg/m3) and postnatal ETS as well as the protective effect of maternal fish intake were adjusted for potential confounders in a multivariable logistic regression model.
While the separate effects of higher prenatal PM2.5 and postnatal ETS exposure were not statistically significant, their joint effect appeared to have a significant influence on the occurrence of infantile eczema [odds ratio 2.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.10–5.18]. With maternal fish intake of more than 205 g/week, the risk of eczema decreased by 43% (odds ratio 0.57, 95% CI 0.35–0.93). The incidence rate ratio (IRR) for eczema symptoms, estimated from the Poisson regression model, was increased with both higher exposure to prenatal PM2.5 and postnatal ETS (IRR 1.55, 95% CI 0.99–2.44) and in children of atopic mothers (IRR 1.35, 95% CI 1.04–1.75) but was lower in girls (IRR 0.78, 95% CI 0.61–1.00). The observed preventive effect of fish consumption on the frequency of eczema symptoms was consistent with the results of the logistic analysis (IRR 0.72, 95% CI 0.52–0.99).
The findings indicate that higher prenatal exposure to fine particulate matter combined with postnatal exposure to ETS may increase the risk of infant eczema, while maternal fish intake during pregnancy may reduce the risk of infantile eczema.
Fish consumption; Prenatal exposure to fine particles; Cow's milk allergy; Passive tobacco smoke; Cohort study
Helminths have profound effects on the immune response, allowing long-term
survival of parasites with minimal damage to the host. Some of these effects
"spill-over", altering responses to
non-helminth antigens or allergens. It is suggested that this may lead to
impaired responses to immunizations and infections, while conferring
benefits against inflammatory responses in allergic and autoimmune disease.
These effects might develop in utero, through exposure to maternal helminth
infections, or through direct exposure in later life.
To determine the effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and in
young children on immunological and disease outcomes in childhood.
The trial has three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled
interventions at two times, in two people: a pregnant woman and her child.
Pregnant women are randomized to albendazole or placebo and praziquantel or
placebo. At age 15 months their children are randomized to three-monthly
albendazole or placebo, to continue to age five years. The proposed
designation for this sequence of interventions is a 2 X 2(x2) factorial
Children are immunized with BCG and against polio, Diphtheria, tetanus,
Pertussis, Haemophilus, hepatitis B and measles. Primary immunological
outcomes are responses to BCG antigens and tetanus toxoid in whole blood
cytokine assays and antibody assays at one, three and five years of age.
Primary disease outcomes are incidence of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea,
tuberculosis, measles, vertical HIV transmission, and atopic disease
episodes, measured at clinic visits and twice-monthly home visits. Effects
on anaemia, growth and intellectual development are also assessed.
This trial, with a novel design comprising related interventions in pregnant
women and their offspring, is the first to examine effects of helminths and
their treatment in pregnancy and early childhood on immunological,
infectious disease and allergic disease outcomes. The results will enhance
understanding of both detrimental and beneficial effects of helminth
infection and inform policy. Clinical Trials 2007; 4: 42–57.
To assess the associations between maternal HIV infection and growth outcomes of HIV-exposed but uninfected infants and to identify other predictors for poor growth among this population.
Within a trial of de-worming during pregnancy, the cohort of offspring was followed from birth. HIV status of the mothers and their children was investigated and growth data for children were obtained at age 1 year. Length-for-age, weight-for-age and weight-for-length Z-scores were calculated for each child; Z-scores <−2 were defined as stunting, underweight and wasting, respectively.
The study was conducted in Entebbe municipality and Katabi sub-county, Uganda.
The sample consisted of 1502 children aged 1 year: HIV-unexposed (n 1380) and HIV-exposed not infected (n 122).
Prevalence of stunting, underweight and wasting was 14·2 %, 8·0 % and 3·9 %, respectively. There was evidence for an association between maternal HIV infection and odds of being underweight (adjusted OR = 2·32; 95 % CI 1·32, 4·09; P = 0·006) but no evidence for an association with stunting or with wasting. Young maternal age, low maternal education, low birth weight, early weaning and experiencing a higher number of episodes of malaria during infancy were independent predictors for stunting and underweight. A higher number of living children in the family was associated with wasting.
Maternal HIV infection was associated with being underweight in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. The success of programmes for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission means that an increasing number of infants will be born to HIV-infected women without acquiring HIV. Therefore, viable nutritional interventions need to be identified for this population.
HIV exposure; Poor growth; Infancy; Uganda
Anaemia during pregnancy and at delivery is an important public health problem in low- and middle-income countries. Its association with the children’s haemoglobin level over time remains unclear. Our goals were to identify distinct haemoglobin level trajectories using latent class analysis and to assess the association between these trajectories and maternal anaemia and other risk factors.
A prospective study of children from birth to 18 months of life was conducted in a rural setting in Tori-Bossito, Benin. The main outcome measure was the haemoglobin levels repeatedly measured at 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 months. Variables were collected from the mothers at delivery and from their children at birth and during the follow-up. The analyses were performed by means of Latent Class Analysis which has never been used for this kind of data. All the analyses were performed with Stata software, version 11.0, using the generalized linear latent and mixed model (GLLAMM) framework.
We showed that 33.7% of children followed a low haemoglobin trajectory and 66.3% a high trajectory during the first 18 months of life. Newborn anaemia, placental malaria, malaria attack, sickle cell trait and male gender were significantly associated with a lower children’s haemoglobin level over time, whereas maternal age, children living in a polygamous family and with good feeding practices had a higher Hb level in the first18 months. We also showed that maternal anaemia was a predictor for ‘low haemoglobin level trajectory’ group membership but have no significant effect on children haemoglobin level over time.
Latent Class Analyses framework seems well suited to analyse longitudinal data under the hypothesis that different subpopulations of subjects are present in the data, each with its own set of parameters, with distinctive evolutions that themselves may reflect distinctive aetiologies.
In the framework of the monitoring and evaluation of the Nigerien schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth control programme, a follow-up of children took place in eight sentinel sites. The objective of the study was to assess the evolution of Schistosoma haematobium infection and anaemia in schoolchildren after a single administration of praziquantel (PZQ) and albendazole.
Pre-treatment examination and follow-up at one year post-treatment of schoolchildren aged 7, 8, and 11 years, including interview, urine examination, ultrasound examination of the urinary tract, and measurement of haemoglobin. Before treatment, the overall prevalence of S. heamatobium infection was 75.4% of the 1,642 enrolled children, and 21.8% of children excreted more than 50 eggs/10 ml urine. Prevalence increased with age. The overall prevalence of anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dl) was 61.6%, decreasing significantly with increasing age. The mean haemoglobinemia was 11 g/dl. In bivariate analysis, anaemia was significantly more frequent in children infected with S. haematobium, although it was not correlated to the intensity of infection. Anaemia was also associated with micro-haematuria and to kidney distensions. In a sub-sample of 636 children tested for P. falciparum infection, anaemia was significantly more frequent in malaria-infected children. In multivariate analysis, significant predictors of anaemia were P. falciparum infection, kidney distension, and the village. One year after a single-dose praziquantel treatment (administered using the WHO PZQ dose pole) co-administered with albendazole (400 mg single dose) for de-worming, the prevalence of S. haematobium infection was 38%, while the prevalence of anaemia fell to 50.4%. The mean haemoglobinemia showed a statistically significant increase of 0.39 g/dl to reach 11.4 g/dl. Anaemia was no longer associated with S. haematobium or to P. falciparum infections, or to haematuria or ultrasound abnormalities of the urinary tract.
The high prevalence of anaemia in Nigerien children is clearly a result of many factors and not of schistosomiasis alone. Nevertheless, treatment of schistosomiasis and de-worming were followed by a partial, but significant, reduction of anaemia in schoolchildren, not explainable by any other obvious intervention.
The World Health Organization's recommendation for the control of urinary schistosomiasis is to reduce morbidity by reducing the prevalence of heavy infections. In Niger, where urinary schistosomiasis is endemic along the Niger River valley and in proximity to ponds, a national control programme for schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth was launched in 2004 with the financial support of the Gates Foundation through the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. In the framework of the monitoring and evaluation of the control programme, a follow-up of school children took place in eight sentinel sites. The aim of this study was to assess the evolution of Schistosoma haematobium infection and associated morbidity after a single-dose administration of praziquantel and albendazole. Before treatment, the overall prevalence of S. heamatobium infection was 75.4% and anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dl) was present in 61.6% of the study sample. One year after a single-dose praziquantel treatment (administered by dose-pole) co-administered with albendazole (400 mg single dose) for de-worming, all morbidity markers of the infection decreased significantly. This study shows how a schistosomiasis control programme can benefit populations by improving their health status.
Disparities in perinatal health care occur worldwide. If the UN Millennium Development Goals in maternal and child health are to be met, this needs to be addressed. This study was conducted to facilitate our understanding of the changing use of maternity care services in a semi-urban community in Entebbe Uganda and to examine the range of antenatal and delivery services received in health care facilities and at home.
We conducted a retrospective community survey among women using structured questionnaires to describe the use of antenatal services and delivery care.
In total 413 women reported on their most recent pregnancy. Antenatal care attendance was high with 96% attending once, and 69% the recommended four times. Blood pressure monitoring (95%) and tetanus vaccination (91%) were the services most frequently reported and HIV testing (47%), haematinics (58%) and presumptive treatment for malaria (66%) least frequently. Hospital clinics significantly outperformed public clinics in the quality of antenatal service. A significant improvement in the reported quality of antenatal services received was observed by year (p < 0.001). Improvement in the range and consistency of services at Entebbe Hospital over time was associated with an increase in the numbers who sought care there (p = 0.038). Although 63% delivered their newborn at a local hospital, 11% still delivered at home with no skilled assistance and just under half of these women reported financial/transportation difficulties as the primary reason. Less educated, poorer mothers were more likely to have unskilled/no assistance. Simple newborn care practices were commonly neglected. Only 35% of newborns were breastfed within the first hour and delayed wrapping of newborn infants occurred after 27% of deliveries.
Although antenatal services were well utilised, the quality of services varied. Women were able and willing to travel to a facility providing a good service. Access to essential skilled birth attendants remains difficult especially for less educated, poorer women, commonly mediated by financial and transport difficulties and several simple post delivery practices were commonly neglected. These factors need to be addressed to ensure that high quality care reaches the most vulnerable women and infants.
Albendazole and mebendazole are increasingly deployed for preventive chemotherapy targeting soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections. We assessed the efficacy of single oral doses of albendazole (400 mg) and mebendazole (500 mg) for the treatment of hookworm infection in school-aged children in Lao PDR. Since Opisthorchis viverrini is co-endemic in our study setting, the effect of the two drugs could also be determined against this liver fluke.
We conducted a randomized, open-label, two-arm trial. In total, 200 children infected with hookworm (determined by quadruplicate Kato-Katz thick smears derived from two stool samples) were randomly assigned to albendazole (n = 100) and mebendazole (n = 100). Cure rate (CR; percentage of children who became egg-negative after treatment), and egg reduction rate (ERR; reduction in the geometric mean fecal egg count at treatment follow-up compared to baseline) at 21–23 days posttreatment were used as primary outcome measures. Adverse events were monitored 3 hours post treatment.
Single-dose albendazole and mebendazole resulted in CRs of 36.0% and 17.6% (odds ratio: 0.4; 95% confidence interval: 0.2–0.8; P = 0.01), and ERRs of 86.7% and 76.3%, respectively. In children co-infected with O. viverrini, albendazole and mebendazole showed low CRs (33.3% and 24.2%, respectively) and moderate ERRs (82.1% and 78.2%, respectively).
Both albendazole and mebendazole showed disappointing CRs against hookworm, but albendazole cured infection and reduced intensity of infection with a higher efficacy than mebendazole. Single-dose administrations showed an effect against O. viverrini, and hence it will be interesting to monitor potential ancillary benefits of a preventive chemotherapy strategy that targets STHs in areas where opisthorchiasis is co-endemic.
Clinical Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN29126001
Parasitic worms remain a public health problem in developing countries. Regular deworming with the drugs albendazole and mebendazole is the current global control strategy. We assessed the efficacies of a single tablet of albendazole (400 mg) and mebendazole (500 mg) against hookworm in children of southern Lao PDR. From each child, two stool samples were examined for the presence and number of hookworm eggs. Two hundred children were found to be infected. They were randomly assigned to albendazole (n = 100) or mebendazole (n = 100) treatment. Three weeks later, another two stool samples were analyzed for hookworm eggs. Thirty-two children who were given albendazole had no hookworm eggs anymore in their stool, while only 15 children who received mebendazole were found egg-negative. The total number of hookworm eggs was reduced by 85.3% in the albendazole and 74.5% in the mebendazole group. About one third of the children who were co-infected with the Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini were cleared from this infection following albendazole treatment and about one forth in the mebendazole group. Concluding, both albendazole and mebendazole showed disappointingly low cure rates against hookworm, with albendazole performing somewhat better. The effect of these two drugs against O. viverrini should be studied in greater detail.
Reducing the incidence of Low birth weight (LBW) neonates by at least one third between 2000 and 2010 is one of the major goals of the United Nations resolution "A World Fit for Children". This was a case-control study conducted between August-October 2009 in Medani Hospital, Sudan to investigate the risk factors for LBW. Cases were mothers who delivered singleton baby < 2500 gm. Controls were mothers delivered singleton baby of ≥ 2500 gm.
Out of 1224 deliveries, 97 (12.6%) of the neonates were LBW deliveries. While maternal socio-demographic characteristics (age, parity and mother education) and anthropometrics measurements were not associated with LBW, lack of antenatal care (OR = 5.9, 95% CI = 1.4-24.4; P = 0.01) and maternal anaemia (OR = 9.0, 95% CI = 3.4-23.8; P < 0.001) were the main risk factor for LBW.
Thus, more care on antenatal care and nutrition may prevent LBW.
An observational study was conducted in the four southernmost provinces of Thailand aiming at determining the effect of international or Asian criteria-based body mass index (BMI) in predicting maternal anaemia, low birthweight (LBW), and preterm births among pregnant Thai women and the change in haemoglobin (Hb) level during pregnancy. Maternal anaemia was defined as a haemoglobin (Hb) level of <11 g/dL. Anaemia was detected in 27.4% and 26.9% of 1,192 pregnant women at their first prenatal visit and the third trimester respectively. The proportions of overweight and obese women according to the Asian criteria-based pre-pregnancy BMI were higher than the international criteria-based BMI (22.4% and 10.1% vs 15.5% and 3.4% respectively). No significant difference between pre-pregnancy BMI and pregnancy BMI at the first prenatal visit was demonstrated (mean±standard deviation=21.8±4.0 vs 22.8±4.1). Underweight women had a significantly higher prevalence of maternal anaemia, LBW, and preterm birth compared to women with normal weight. Overweight and obese women at pre-pregnancy by the Asian criteria-based BMI had a lower prevalence of anaemia. The Hb levels did not change significantly over time. In addition to BMI, maternal age, parity, and late prenatal visit were independently associated with maternal anaemia, low birthweight, and preterm birth. Underweight pregnant women classified by international or Asian criteria-based BMI increased the risk of maternal anaemia, low birthweight, and preterm birth.
Anaemia; Body mass index; Observational studies; Pregnancy; Thailand
OBJECTIVE--To study associations between characteristics of families during the first pregnancy and after childbirth and the development of infantile colic. DESIGN--Randomised, stratified cluster sampling. Follow up from the first visit to a maternity health care clinic during pregnancy to three months after birth with confidential semistructured questionnaires. SETTING--Maternity health care clinics in primary health care centres in Finland. SUBJECTS--1443 nulliparous women and 1407 partners. Altogether 1333 women and 1279 men returned the questionnaires. When the infants were 3 months old 1208 women and 1115 men returned questionnaires. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Marital relationship; personal and social behaviour of parents during the pregnancy and their coping with the pregnancy; mothers' physical health and events, symptoms, and experiences in relation to pregnancy; self confidence and experiences of mothers and fathers in relation to childbirth; and parents' sociodemographic and educational variables. Measure of colic when the infant was 3 months old. RESULTS--Experience of stress and physical symptoms during the pregnancy, dissatisfaction with the sexual relationship, and negative experiences during childbirth were associated with the development of colic in the baby. None of the sociodemographic factors was associated with colic. CONCLUSIONS--Early preventive health work during pregnancy should attempt to improve parents' tolerance of symptoms of stress and ability to cope and increase their confidence in parenting abilities.
Background and Objectives
Hookworm infection is among the major causes of anaemia in poor communities, but its importance in causing maternal anaemia is poorly understood, and this has hampered effective lobbying for the inclusion of anthelmintic treatment in maternal health packages. We sought to review existing evidence on the role of hookworm as a risk factor for anaemia among pregnant women. We also estimate the number of hookworm infections in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Structured searches using MEDLINE and EMBASE as well as manual searches of reference lists were conducted, and unpublished data were obtained by contacting authors. Papers were independently reviewed by two authors, and relevant data were extracted. We compared haemoglobin concentration (Hb) according to intensity of hookworm infection and calculated standardised mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. To estimate the number of pregnant women, we used population surfaces and a spatial model of hookworm prevalence.
One hundred and five reports were screened and 19 were eligible for inclusion: 13 cross-sectional studies, 2 randomised controlled trials, 2 non-randomised treatment trials and 2 observational studies. Comparing uninfected women and women lightly (1–1,999 eggs/gram [epg]) infected with hookworm, the standardised mean difference (SMD) was −0.24 (95% CI: −0.36 to −0.13). The SMD between women heavily (4000+ epg) infected and those lightly infected was −0.57 (95% CI: −0.87 to −0.26). All identified intervention studies showed a benefit of deworming for maternal or child health, but since a variety of outcomes measures were employed, quantitative evaluation was not possible. We estimate that 37.7 million women of reproductive age in SSA are infected with hookworm in 2005 and that approximately 6.9 million pregnant women are infected.
Evidence indicates that increasing hookworm infection intensity is associated with lower haemoglobin levels in pregnant women in poor countries. There are insufficient data to quantify the benefits of deworming, and further studies are warranted. Given that between a quarter and a third of pregnant women in SSA are infected with hookworm and at risk of preventable hookworm-related anaemia, efforts should be made to increase the coverage of anthelmintic treatment among pregnant women.
Anaemia affects large numbers of pregnant women in developing countries and increases their risk of dying during pregnancy and delivering low birth weight babies, who in turn are at increased risk of dying. Human hookworm infection has long been recognized among the major causes of anaemia in poor communities, but understanding of the benefits of the management of hookworm infection in pregnancy has lagged behind the other major causes of maternal anaemia. Low coverage of anthelmintic treatment in maternal health programmes in many countries has been the result. After systematically reviewing the available literature we observed that increasing hookworm infection intensity is associated with lower haemoglobin levels in pregnant women. We also estimate that between a quarter and a third of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with hookworm and at risk of preventable hookworm-related anaemia. However, all identified intervention studies showed a benefit of deworming for maternal or child health and we argue that increased efforts should be made to increase the coverage of anthelmintic treatment among pregnant women.
Question In my practice several patients have struggled with cocaine abuse during their pregnancies. One woman, now postpartum, wants to breastfeed her infant. Despite being abstinent for the final few months of her pregnancy, I am concerned about the potential adverse effects on her child if she happens to relapse. What is the current evidence about the risks of cocaine exposure during breastfeeding?
Answer Given the substantial benefits of breastfeeding for infant health and development, there is no reason for mothers who previously abused cocaine to avoid breastfeeding. It is important for the health care team to counsel patients both on the serious potential risks of cocaine exposure for babies and on the benefits of breastfeeding, to allow for an informed choice. Additionally, attempts should be made to estimate maternal commitment to breastfeeding and discontinuation of cocaine use, and to offer addiction counseling to mitigate the potential risks of infant cocaine exposure. It is paramount to minimize the risk to the infant, which would certainly include mothers ceasing use of cocaine while breastfeeding. For mothers who elect to breastfeed and use cocaine intermittently, breastfeeding should be delayed sufficiently after cocaine use to allow for drug elimination (approximately 24 hours).
Tribendimidine is an anthelminthic drug with a broad spectrum of activity. In 2004 the drug was approved by Chinese authorities for human use. The efficacy of tribendimidine against soil-transmitted helminths (Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, and Trichuris trichiura) has been established, and new laboratory investigations point to activity against cestodes and Strongyloides ratti.
In an open-label randomized trial, the safety and efficacy of a single oral dose of albendazole or tribendimidine (both drugs administered at 200 mg for 5- to 14-year-old children, and 400 mg for individuals ≥15 years) against soil-transmitted helminths, Strongyloides stercoralis, and Taenia spp. were assessed in a village in Yunnan province, People's Republic of China. The analysis was on a per-protocol basis and the trial is registered with controlled-trials.com (number ISRCTN01779485). Both albendazole and tribendimidine were highly efficacious against A. lumbricoides and, moderately, against hookworm. The efficacy against T. trichiura was low. Among 57 individuals who received tribendimidine, the prevalence of S. stercoralis was reduced from 19.3% to 8.8% (observed cure rate 54.5%, p = 0.107), and that of Taenia spp. from 26.3% to 8.8% (observed cure rate 66.7%, p = 0.014). Similar prevalence reductions were noted among the 66 albendazole recipients. Taking into account “new” infections discovered at treatment evaluation, which were most likely missed pre-treatment due to the lack of sensitivity of available diagnostic approaches, the difference between the drug-specific net Taenia spp. cure rates was highly significant in favor of tribendimidine (p = 0.001). No significant adverse events of either drug were observed.
Our results suggest that single-dose oral tribendimidine can be employed in settings with extensive intestinal polyparasitism, and its efficacy against A. lumbricoides and hookworm was confirmed. The promising results obtained with tribendimidine against S. stercoralis and Taenia spp. warrant further investigations. In a next step, multiple-dose schedules should be evaluated.
More than a billion people are infected with intestinal worms and, in the developing world, many individuals harbor several kinds of worms concurrently. There are only a handful of drugs available for treatment, and drug efficacy varies according to the worm species. We compared the efficacy of a single oral dose of tribendimidine, a new broad-spectrum worm drug from China, with the standard drug albendazole for the treatment of hookworm, large roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworm (Trichuris trichiura) and, for the first time, Strongyloides stercoralis and tapeworm (Taenia spp.). Our single-blind randomized trial was conducted in a village in Yunnan province, southwest China. Both drugs showed high efficacy against A. lumbricoides and a moderate efficacy against hookworm. Among 57 tribendimidine recipients, the prevalence of S. stercoralis was reduced from 19.3% to 8.8%, and that of Taenia spp. from 26.3% to 8.8%. Similar prevalence reductions were noted among the 66 albendazole recipients. Taking into account additional infections only discovered at treatment evaluation, the difference between the drug-specific Taenia spp. net cure rates was highly significant in favor of tribendimidine. In view of our promising results, multiple-dose schedules with tribendimidine against S. stercoralis and Taenia spp. should be evaluated next.