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1.  Maternal Obesity, Overweight and Gestational Diabetes Affect the Offspring Neurodevelopment at 6 and 18 Months of Age – A Follow Up from the PREOBE Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133010.
Brain development in fetal life and early infancy is critical to determine lifelong performance in various neuropsychological domains. Metabolic pathologies such as overweight, obesity, and gestational diabetes in pregnant women are prevalent and increasing risk factors that may adversely affect long-term brain development in their offspring.
The objective of this research was to investigate the influence of maternal metabolic pathologies on the neurodevelopment of the offspring at 6 and 18 months of life.
This was a prospective case-control study of 331 mother- and child pairs from Granada, Spain. The mothers were included during pregnancy into four groups according to their pre-gestational body mass index and their gestational diabetes status; overweight (n:56), obese (n:64), gestational diabetic (n:79), and healthy normal weight controls (n:132). At 6 months and 18 months we assessed the children with the Bayley III scales of neurodevelopment.
At 6 months (n=215), we found significant group differences in cognition composite language, and expressive language. Post hoc test revealed unexpectedly higher scores in the obese group compared to the normal weight group and a similar trend in overweight and diabetic group. The effects on language remained significant after adjusting for confounders with an adjusted odds ratio for a value above median in composite language score of 3.3 (95% CI: 1.1, 10.0; p=0.035) for children of obese mothers. At 18 month (n=197), the offspring born to obese mothers had lost five points in language composite scores and the previous differences in language and cognition was replaced by a suggestive trend of lower gross motor scores in the overweight, obese, and diabetic groups.
Infants of obese mothers had a temporary accelerated development of cognition and language, followed by a rapid deceleration until 18 months of age, particularly of language scores. This novel observation prompts further confirmative studies to explore possible placental and neurodevelopmental mechanisms involved.
PMCID: PMC4514597  PMID: 26208217
2.  The Effect of Intermittent Antenatal Iron Supplementation on Maternal and Infant Outcomes in Rural Viet Nam: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001470.
Beverley-Anne Biggs and colleagues conduct a community-based cluster randomized trial in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron-folic acid supplementation taken daily or twice weekly on maternal and infant outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Anemia affects over 500 million women, and in pregnancy is associated with impaired maternal and infant outcomes. Intermittent antenatal iron supplementation is an attractive alternative to daily dosing; however, the impact of this strategy on infant outcomes remains unclear. We compared the effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation with daily iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomised trial was conducted in Ha Nam province, Viet Nam. 1,258 pregnant women (<16 wk gestation) in 104 communes were assigned to daily iron–folic acid (IFA), twice weekly IFA, or twice weekly multiple micronutrient (MMN) supplementation. Primary outcome was birth weight. Mean birth weight was 3,148 g (standard deviation 416). There was no difference in the birth weights of infants of women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (mean difference [MD] 28 g; 95% CI −22 to 78), or twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (MD −36.8 g; 95% CI −82 to 8.2). At 32 wk gestation, maternal ferritin was lower in women receiving twice weekly IFA compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.73; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.80), and in women receiving twice weekly MMN compared to daily IFA (geometric mean ratio 0.62; 95% CI 0.57 to 0.68), but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels. Infants of mothers who received twice weekly IFA had higher cognitive scores at 6 mo of age compared to those who received daily IFA (MD 1.89; 95% CI 0.23 to 3.56).
Twice weekly antenatal IFA or MMN did not produce a clinically important difference in birth weight, when compared to daily IFA supplementation. The significant improvement in infant cognitive outcomes at 6 mo of age following twice weekly antenatal IFA requires further exploration, and provides additional support for the use of intermittent, rather than daily, antenatal IFA in populations with low rates of iron deficiency.
Trial registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12610000944033
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Anemia is a common condition in which the blood does not supply the body with enough oxygen because of a low number of red blood cells or low levels of hemoglobin—the iron-containing pigment that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia worldwide and, according to the World Health Organization, affects over 2 billion people: half of all pregnant women and 40% of preschool children in low- and middle-income countries are thought to be anemic. Anemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths and is also linked to increased maternal morbidity, higher rates of preterm birth and low birth weight, and reduced infant survival, with potential long-term consequences for child growth and development. Identifying and treating iron deficiency anemia is therefore a global health priority.
Why Was This Study Done?
Daily iron–folic acid supplementation given from early in pregnancy is the standard recommended approach to prevent and treat anemia in pregnant women, but recently the World Health Organization recommended intermittent use because of poor compliance with daily regimes (because of side effects) and poor bowel absorption. However, the evidence from many of the studies used to support this recommendation was of poor quality, and so it remains unclear whether intermittent supplementation is as, or more, effective than daily supplementation, especially in lower income settings where antenatal testing for anemia is not readily available. So in this study, the researchers conducted a community-based cluster randomized trial (where groups of people are randomized, rather than individuals) in rural Viet Nam to compare the effect of antenatal iron–folic acid supplementation taken twice weekly (either alone, or in combination with other micronutrients) with daily iron–folic acid supplementation, on maternal and infant outcomes during the first six months of life.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomized 104 communes in Ha Nam Province, Viet Nam, and enrolled 1,258 women who were less than 16 weeks pregnant into the study between September and November 2010. Although the researchers intended to register the trial before the study started, registration was delayed by a month because the supplements arrived earlier than the researchers anticipated, and they thought it best to start recruiting at that time to avoid the Vietnamese New Year, when women might be travelling. Each woman was interviewed and had blood taken for hemoglobin and iron indices (ferritin) before receiving daily iron–folic acid supplementation (426 women), twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation (425 women), or twice weekly iron–folic acid supplementation plus micronutrients (407 women). The women had follow-up assessments at 32 weeks gestation, delivery, and at six months postpartum: their infants were assessed at birth and at six months old.
The researchers found that at enrollment, the women's average hemoglobin concentration was 123 g/l, and 12.6% of the women were anemic. At 32 weeks gestation, 10.8% of the women were anemic, but there was no difference in hemoglobin levels between the three supplement groups. The average ferritin level was 75.6 µg/l at enrollment, with 2.2% of women iron deficient. Ferritin levels decreased from enrollment to 32 weeks gestation in all supplement groups but were lower in women who took twice weekly supplements. The researchers also found that birth weight (the primary outcome) was similar in all supplement groups, and there were also no differences in gestational age or in the risk of prematurity, stillbirth, or early neonatal death. At six months, there were also no differences in the levels of infant hemoglobin, prevalence of anemia, or growth rates. However, infants born to mothers in the twice weekly iron–folic acid group had improved cognitive development compared to infants born to mothers in the daily supplement group. Finally, the researchers found that adherence rates were significantly higher in the twice weekly iron–folic acid supplement group compared to the once daily regime.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in an area of Southeast Asia with low anemia prevalence, once daily antenatal supplementation with iron–folic acid did not provide any benefits in birth weight or improved infant growth over twice weekly supplementation. Furthermore, twice weekly supplementation with iron–folic acid was associated with improved maternal adherence rates and also improved cognitive development in infants aged six months—a finding that requires further study and provides added support for the use of intermittent iron–folic acid supplementation over daily supplementation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization website has comprehensive information on anemia, including a report of global estimates and the guideline Intermittent Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation in Non-Anaemic Pregnant Women
Wikipedia provides information on iron supplementation (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3708703  PMID: 23853552
3.  Impact of Helminth Infection during Pregnancy on Cognitive and Motor Functions of One-Year-Old Children 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(3):e0003463.
To determine the effect of helminth infection during pregnancy on the cognitive and motor functions of one-year-old children.
Six hundred and thirty five singletons born to pregnant women enrolled before 29 weeks of gestation in a trial comparing two intermittent preventive treatments for malaria were assessed for cognitive and motor functions using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning, in the TOVI study, at twelve months of age in the district of Allada in Benin. Stool samples of pregnant women were collected at recruitment, second antenatal care (ANC) visit (at least one month after recruitment) and just before delivery, and were tested for helminths using the Kato-Katz technique. All pregnant women were administered a total of 600 mg of mebendazole (100 mg two times daily for 3 days) to be taken after the first ANC visit. The intake was not directly observed.
Prevalence of helminth infection was 11.5%, 7.5% and 3.0% at first ANC visit, second ANC visit and at delivery, respectively. Children of mothers who were infected with hookworms at the first ANC visit had 4.9 (95% CI: 1.3–8.6) lower mean gross motor scores compared to those whose mothers were not infected with hookworms at the first ANC visit, in the adjusted model. Helminth infection at least once during pregnancy was associated with infant cognitive and gross motor functions after adjusting for maternal education, gravidity, child sex, family possessions, and quality of the home stimulation.
Helminth infection during pregnancy is associated with poor cognitive and gross motor outcomes in infants. Measures to prevent helminth infection during pregnancy should be reinforced.
Author Summary
The WHO recommends anthelmintics for pregnant women after their first trimester but the benefits remain unequivocal. Although the consequences of helminth infection during pregnancy on the health of pregnant women have been well studied, the impact on the early development of offspring has been understudied. Studies suggest that helminth infection in children may be associated with poor cognitive development, but very little is known whether a similar consequence exists for offspring of women infected with helminths during pregnancy. From our study, we found that women who had intestinal worm infection at least once during pregnancy, had children with lower cognitive and motor scores. Moreover, hookworm infection in pregnant women prior to receiving anthelminthic treatment was associated with poor gross motor functions of children at one-year of age. Based on the findings of this study, measures to prevent helminth infections during pregnancy should be reinforced.
PMCID: PMC4355614  PMID: 25756357
4.  Comparison of Bayley-2 and Bayley-3 scores at 18 months in term infants following neonatal encephalopathy and therapeutic hypothermia 
Neuroprotection trials for neonatal encephalopathy use moderate or severe disability as an outcome, with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition (Bayley-2) Index scores of <70 as part of the criteria. The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler, 3rd Development, Third Edition (Bayley-3) have superseded Bayley-2 and yield higher than expected scores in typically developing and high-risk infants. The aim of this study, therefore, was to compare Bayley-2 scores and Bayley-3 scores in term-born infants surviving neonatal encephalopathy treated with hypothermia.
Sixty-one term-born infants (37 males, 24 females; median gestational age at birth 40wks, range 36–42wks; median birthweight 3280g, range 2295–5050) following neonatal encephalopathy and hypothermia had contemporaneous assessment at 18 months using the Bayley-2 and Bayley-3.
The median Bayley-3 Cognitive Composite score was 7 points higher than the median Bayley-2 Mental Developmental Index (MDI) score and the median Bayley-3 Motor Composite score was 18 points higher than the median Bayley-2 Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) score. Ten children had a Bayley-2 MDI of <70; only three children had Bayley-3 combined Cognitive/Language scores of <70. Eleven children had Bayley-2 PDI scores of <70 and four had modified Bayley-3 Motor Composite scores of <70. Applying regression equations to Bayley-3 scores adjusted rates of severe delay to similar proportions found using Bayley-2 scores.
Fewer children were classified with severe delay using the Bayley-3 than the Bayley-2, which prohibits direct comparison of scores. Increased Bayley-3 cut-off thresholds for classifying severe disability are recommended when comparing studies in this clinical group using Bayley-2 scores.
PMCID: PMC4287199  PMID: 23927586
5.  Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes among HIV-Infected Women Taking Long-Term ART with and without Tenofovir in the DART Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(5):e1001217.
Diana Gibb and colleagues investigate the effect of in utero tenofovir exposure by analyzing the pregnancy and infant outcomes of HIV-infected women enrolled in the DART trial.
Few data have described long-term outcomes for infants born to HIV-infected African women taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) in pregnancy. This is particularly true for World Health Organization (WHO)–recommended tenofovir-containing first-line regimens, which are increasingly used and known to cause renal and bone toxicities; concerns have been raised about potential toxicity in babies due to in utero tenofovir exposure.
Methods and Findings
Pregnancy outcome and maternal/infant ART were collected in Ugandan/Zimbabwean HIV-infected women initiating ART during The Development of AntiRetroviral Therapy in Africa (DART) trial, which compared routine laboratory monitoring (CD4; toxicity) versus clinically driven monitoring. Women were followed 15 January 2003 to 28 September 2009. Infant feeding, clinical status, and biochemistry/haematology results were collected in a separate infant study. Effect of in utero ART exposure on infant growth was analysed using random effects models.
382 pregnancies occurred in 302/1,867 (16%) women (4.4/100 woman-years [95% CI 4.0–4.9]). 226/390 (58%) outcomes were live-births, 27 (7%) stillbirths (≥22 wk), and 137 (35%) terminations/miscarriages (<22 wk). Of 226 live-births, seven (3%) infants died <2 wk from perinatal causes and there were seven (3%) congenital abnormalities, with no effect of in utero tenofovir exposure (p>0.4). Of 219 surviving infants, 182 (83%) enrolled in the follow-up study; median (interquartile range [IQR]) age at last visit was 25 (12–38) months. From mothers' ART, 62/9/111 infants had no/20%–89%/≥90% in utero tenofovir exposure; most were also zidovudine/lamivudine exposed. All 172 infants tested were HIV-negative (ten untested). Only 73/182(40%) infants were breast-fed for median 94 (IQR 75–212) days. Overall, 14 infants died at median (IQR) age 9 (3–23) months, giving 5% 12-month mortality; six of 14 were HIV-uninfected; eight untested infants died of respiratory infection (three), sepsis (two), burns (one), measles (one), unknown (one). During follow-up, no bone fractures were reported to have occurred; 12/368 creatinines and seven out of 305 phosphates were grade one (16) or two (three) in 14 children with no effect of in utero tenofovir (p>0.1). There was no evidence that in utero tenofovir affected growth after 2 years (p = 0.38). Attained height- and weight for age were similar to general (HIV-uninfected) Ugandan populations. Study limitations included relatively small size and lack of randomisation to maternal ART regimens.
Overall 1-year 5% infant mortality was similar to the 2%–4% post-neonatal mortality observed in this region. No increase in congenital, renal, or growth abnormalities was observed with in utero tenofovir exposure. Although some infants died untested, absence of recorded HIV infection with combination ART in pregnancy is encouraging. Detailed safety of tenofovir for pre-exposure prophylaxis will need confirmation from longer term follow-up of larger numbers of exposed children.
Trial registration ISRCTN13968779
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Currently, about 34 million people (mostly in low- and middle-income countries) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. At the beginning of the epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV but now about half of all people living with HIV/AIDS are women, most of who became infected through unprotected sex with an infected partner. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 12 million women are HIV-positive. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of child-bearing age. Moreover, most of the 400,000 children who become infected with HIV every year acquire the virus from their mother during pregnancy or birth, or through breastfeeding, so-called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART)—treatment with cocktails of powerful antiretroviral drugs—reduces HIV-related illness and death among women, and ART given to HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy and delivery and to their newborn babies greatly reduces MTCT.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of ongoing international efforts to increase ART coverage, more HIV-positive women in Africa have access to ART now than ever before. However, little is known about pregnancy outcomes among HIV-infected African women taking ART throughout pregnancy for their own health or about the long-term outcomes of their offspring. In particular, few studies have examined the effect of taking tenofovir (an antiretroviral drug that is now recommended as part of first-line ART) throughout pregnancy. Tenofovir readily crosses from mother to child during pregnancy and, in animal experiments, high doses of tenofovir given during pregnancy caused bone demineralization (which weakens bones), kidney problems, and impaired growth among offspring. In this study, the researchers analyze data collected on pregnancy and infant outcomes among Ugandan and Zimbabwean HIV-positive women who took ART throughout pregnancy in the Development of AntiRetroviral Therapy in Africa (DART) trial. This trial was designed to test whether ART could be safely and effectively delivered in Africa without access to the expensive laboratory tests that are routinely used to monitor ART toxicity and efficacy in developed countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The pregnancy outcomes of 302 women who became pregnant during the DART trial and information on birth defects among their babies were collected as part of the DART protocol; information on the survival, growth, and development of the infants born to these women was collected in a separate infant study. Most of the women who became pregnant were taking tenofovir-containing ART before and throughout their pregnancies. 58% of the pregnancies resulted in a live birth, 7% resulted in a stillbirth (birth of a dead baby at any time from 22 weeks gestation to the end of pregnancy), and 35% resulted in a termination or miscarriage (before 22 weeks gestation). Of the 226 live births, seven infants died within 2 weeks and seven had birth defects. Similar proportions of the infants exposed and not exposed to tenofovir during pregnancy died soon after birth or had birth defects. Of the 182 surviving infants who were enrolled in the infant study, 14 subsequently died at an average age of 9 months, giving a 1-year mortality of 5%. None of the surviving children who were tested (172 infants) were HIV infected. No bone fractures or major kidney problems occurred during follow-up and prebirth exposure to tenofovir in utero had no effect on growth or weight gain at 2 years (in contrast to a previous US study).
What Do These Findings Mean?
By showing that prebirth tenofovir exposure does not affect pregnancy outcomes or increase birth defects, growth abnormalities, or kidney problems, these findings support the use of tenofovir-containing ART during pregnancy among HIV-positive African women, and suggest that it could also be used to prevent women of child-bearing age acquiring HIV-infection heterosexually. Notably, the observed 5% 1-year infant mortality is similar to the 2%–4% infant mortality normally seen in the region. The absence of HIV infection among the infants born to the DART participants is also encouraging. However, this is a small study (only 111 infants were exposed to tenofovir throughout pregnancy) and women were not randomly assigned to receive tenofovir-containing ART. Consequently, more studies are needed to confirm that tenofovir exposure during pregnancy does not affect pregnancy outcomes or have any long-term effects on infants. Such studies are essential because the use of tenofovir as a treatment for women who are HIV-positive is likely to increase and tenofovir may also be used in the future to prevent HIV acquisition in HIV-uninfected women.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, women, HIV and AIDS, children, HIV and AIDS, and on HIV/AIDS and pregnancy (some information in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
More information about the DART trial is available
Additional patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline
PMCID: PMC3352861  PMID: 22615543
6.  Triple-Antiretroviral Prophylaxis to Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission through Breastfeeding—The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study, Kenya: A Clinical Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1001015.
Timothy Thomas and colleagues report the results of the Kisumu breastfeeding study (Kenya), a single-arm trial that assessed the feasibility and safety of a triple-antiretroviral regimen to suppress maternal HIV load in late pregnancy.
Effective strategies are needed for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) in resource-limited settings. The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study was a single-arm open label trial conducted between July 2003 and February 2009. The overall aim was to investigate whether a maternal triple-antiretroviral regimen that was designed to maximally suppress viral load in late pregnancy and the first 6 mo of lactation was a safe, well-tolerated, and effective PMTCT intervention.
Methods and Findings
HIV-infected pregnant women took zidovudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or nelfinavir from 34–36 weeks' gestation to 6 mo post partum. Infants received single-dose nevirapine at birth. Women were advised to breastfeed exclusively and wean rapidly just before 6 mo. Using Kaplan-Meier methods we estimated HIV-transmission and death rates from delivery to 24 mo. We compared HIV-transmission rates among subgroups defined by maternal risk factors, including baseline CD4 cell count and viral load.
Among 487 live-born, singleton, or first-born infants, cumulative HIV-transmission rates at birth, 6 weeks, and 6, 12, and 24 mo were 2.5%, 4.2%, 5.0%, 5.7%, and 7.0%, respectively. The 24-mo HIV-transmission rates stratified by baseline maternal CD4 cell count <500 and ≥500 cells/mm3 were 8.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.8%–12.0%) and 4.1% (1.8%–8.8%), respectively (p = 0.06); the corresponding rates stratified by baseline maternal viral load <10,000 and ≥10,000 copies/ml were 3.0% (1.1%–7.8%) and 8.7% (6.1%–12.3%), respectively (p = 0.01). None of the 12 maternal and 51 infant deaths (including two second-born infants) were attributed to antiretrovirals. The cumulative HIV-transmission or death rate at 24 mo was 15.7% (95% CI 12.7%–19.4%).
This trial shows that a maternal triple-antiretroviral regimen from late pregnancy through 6 months of breastfeeding for PMTCT is safe and feasible in a resource-limited setting. These findings are consistent with those from other trials using maternal triple-antiretroviral regimens during breastfeeding in comparable settings.
Trial registration NCT00146380
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every year, about half a million children become infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Nearly all these newly infected children live in resource-limited countries and most acquire HIV from their mother, so-called mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Without intervention, 25%–50% of babies born to HIV-positive mothers become infected with HIV during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. This infection rate can be reduced by treating mother and child with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. A single dose of nevirapine (a “non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor” or NNRTI) given to the mother at the start of labor and to her baby soon after birth nearly halves the risk of MTCT. Further reductions in risk can be achieved by giving mother and baby three ARVs—an NNRTI and two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs such as zidovudine and lamivudine)—during pregnancy and perinatally (around the time of birth).
Why Was This Study Done?
Breastfeeding is crucial for child survival in poor countries but it is also responsible for up to half of MTCT. Consequently, many researchers are investigating how various ARV regimens given to mothers and/or their infants during the first few months of life as well as during pregnancy and perinatally affect MTCT. In this single-arm trial, the researchers assess the feasibility and safety of using a triple-ARV regimen to suppress the maternal HIV load (amount of virus in the blood) from late pregnancy though 6 months of breastfeeding among HIV-positive women in Kisumu, Kenya, and ask whether this approach achieves a lower HIV transmission rate than other ARV regimens that have been tested in resource-limited settings. In a single-arm trial, all the participants are given the same treatment. By contrast, in a “randomized controlled” trial, half the participants chosen at random are given the treatment under investigation and the rest are given a control treatment. A randomized controlled trial provides a better comparison of treatments than a single-arm trial but is more costly.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study (KiBS), HIV-infected pregnant women took a triple-ARV regimen containing zidovudine and lamivudine and either nevirapine or the protease inhibitor nelfinavir from 34–36 weeks of pregnancy to 6 months after delivery. They were advised to breastfeed their babies (who received single-dose nevirapine at birth), and to wean them rapidly just before 6 months. The researchers then used Kaplan-Meier statistical methods to estimate HIV transmission and death rates among 487 live-born infants from delivery to 24 months. The cumulative HIV transmission rate rose from 2.5% at birth to 7.0% at 24 months. The cumulative HIV transmission or death rate at 24 months was 15.7%; no infant deaths were attributed to ARVs. At 24 months, 3.0% of babies born to mothers with a low viral load were HIV positive compared to 8.7% of babies born to mothers with a high viral load, a statistically significant difference. Similarly, at 24 months, 8.4% of babies born to mothers with low baseline CD4 cell counts (CD4 cells are immune system cells that are killed by HIV; CD4 cell counts indicate the level of HIV-inflicted immune system damage) were HIV positive compared to 4.1% of babies born to mothers with high baseline CD4 cell counts, although this difference did not achieve statistical significance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings are limited by the single-arm design, they support the idea that giving breastfeeding women a triple-ARV regimen from late pregnancy to 6 months is a safe, feasible way to reduce MTCT in resource-limited settings. The HIV transmission rates in this study are comparable to those recorded in similar trials in other resource-limited settings and are lower than MTCT rates observed previously in Kisumu in a study in which no ARVs were used. Importantly, the KiBS mothers took most of the ARVs they were prescribed and most stopped breastfeeding by 6 months as advised. The intense follow-up employed in KiBS may be partly responsible for this good adherence to the trial protocol and thus this study's findings may not be generalizable to all resource-limited settings. Nevertheless, they suggest that a simple triple-ARV regimen given to HIV-positive pregnant women regardless of their baseline CD4 cell count can reduce MTCT during pregnancy and breastfeeding in resource-limited setting.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The accompanying PLoS Medicine Research article by Zeh and colleagues describes the emergence of resistance to ARVs in KiBS
Information on HIV and AIDS is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on children, HIV, and AIDS and on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in English and Spanish)
UNICEF also has information about children and HIV and AIDS (in several languages)
The World Health organization has information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3066129  PMID: 21468300
7.  Early Second Trimester Maternal Plasma Choline and Betaine Are Related to Measures of Early Cognitive Development in Term Infants 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43448.
The importance of maternal dietary choline for fetal neural development and later cognitive function has been well-documented in experimental studies. Although choline is an essential dietary nutrient for humans, evidence that low maternal choline in pregnancy impacts neurodevelopment in human infants is lacking. We determined potential associations between maternal plasma free choline and its metabolites betaine and dimethylglycine in pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment at 18 months of age.
This was a prospective study of healthy pregnant women and their full-term, single birth infants. Maternal blood was collected at 16 and 36 weeks of gestation and infant neurodevelopment was assessed at 18 months of age for 154 mother-infant pairs. Maternal plasma choline, betaine, dimethylglycine, methionine, homocysteine, cysteine, total B12, holotranscobalamin and folate were quantified. Infant neurodevelopment was evaluated using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development–III. Multivariate regression, adjusting for covariates that impact development, was used to determine the associations between maternal plasma choline, betaine and dimethylglycine and infant neurodevelopment.
The maternal plasma free choline at 16 and 36 weeks gestation was median (interquartile range) 6.70 (5.78–8.03) and 9.40 (8.10–11.3) µmol/L, respectively. Estimated choline intakes were (mean ±SD) 383±98.6 mg/day, and lower than the recommended 450 mg/day. Betaine intakes were 142±70.2 mg/day. Significant positive associations were found between infant cognitive test scores and maternal plasma free choline (B = 6.054, SE = 2.283, p = 0.009) and betaine (B = 7.350, SE = 1.933, p = 0.0002) at 16 weeks of gestation. Maternal folate, total B12, or holotranscobalamin were not related to infant development.
We show that choline status in the first half of pregnancy is associated with cognitive development among healthy term gestation infants. More work is needed on the potential limitation of choline or betaine in the diets of pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3423345  PMID: 22916264
8.  The Complex Interaction between Home Environment, Socioeconomic Status, Maternal IQ and Early Child Neurocognitive Development: A Multivariate Analysis of Data Collected in a Newborn Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0127052.
The relative role of socioeconomic status (SES), home environment and maternal intelligence, as factors affecting child cognitive development in early childhood is still unclear. The aim of this study is to analyze the association of SES, home environment and maternal IQ with child neurodevelopment at 18 months.
The data were collected prospectively in the PHIME study, a newborn cohort study carried out in Italy between 2007 and 2010. Maternal nonverbal abilities (IQ) were evaluated using the Standard Progressive Matrices, a version of the Raven’s Progressive Matrices; a direct evaluation of the home environment was carried out with the AIRE instrument, designed using the HOME (Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment) model; the socioeconomic characteristics were evaluated using the SES index which takes into account parents occupation, type of employment, educational level, homeownership. The study outcome was child neurodevelopment evaluated at 18 months, with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development Third Edition (BSID III). Linear regression analyses and mediation analyses were carried out to evaluate the association between the three exposures, and the scaled scores of the three main scales of BSID III (cognitive, language and motor scale), with adjustment for a wide range of potential explanatory variables.
Data from 502 mother-child pairs were analyzed. Mediation analysis showed a relationship between SES and maternal IQ, with a complete mediation effect of home environment in affecting cognitive and language domains. A direct significant effect of maternal IQ on the BSID III motor development scale and the mediation effect of home environment were found.
Our results show that home environment was the variable with greater influence on neurodevelopment at 18 months. The observation of how parents and children interact in the home context is crucial to adequately evaluate early child development.
PMCID: PMC4440732  PMID: 25996934
9.  Effect of primary language on developmental testing in children born extremely preterm 
To better understand the impact of non-English language spoken in the home on measures of cognition, language, and behavior in toddlers born extremely preterm.
Eight hundred and fifty children born at <28 weeks gestational ages were studied. 427 male and 423 female participants from three racial/ethnic groups (White, Black, and Hispanic) were evaluated at 18-22 months adjusted age using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development 3rd edition and the Brief Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (BITSEA). Children whose primary language was Spanish (n=98) were compared with children whose primary language was English (n=752), using multivariable regression adjusted for medical and psychosocial factors.
Cognitive scores were similar between groups; however, receptive, expressive and composite language scores were lower for children whose primary language was Spanish. These differences remained significant after adjustment for medical and socio-economic factors. Spanish speaking children scored worse on the BITSEA competence and problem scores using univariate analysis, but not after adjustment for medical and socio-economic factors.
Our finding that preterm children whose primary language was Spanish had similar cognitive but lower language scores than those whose primary language was English suggests that using English language-based testing tools may introduce bias against non-English speaking children born preterm.
PMCID: PMC4108617  PMID: 23735043
development; prematurity; second-language; race/ethnicity
10.  Prenatal methamphetamine exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children from 1 to 3 years 
Despite the evidence that women world-wide are using methamphetamine (MA) during pregnancy little is known about the neurodevelopment of their children.
The controlled, prospective longitudinal New Zealand (NZ) Infant Development, Environment and Lifestyle (IDEAL) study was carried out in Auckland, NZ. Participants were 103 children exposed to MA prenatally and 107 not exposed. The Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition (BSID-II) measured cognitive and motor performance at ages 1, 2 and 3, and the Peabody Developmental Motor Scale, Second Edition (PDMS-II) measured gross and fine motor performance at 1 and 3. Measures of the child’s environment included the Home Observation of Measurement of the Environment and the Maternal Lifestyle Interview. The Substance Use Inventory measured maternal drug use.
After controlling for other drug use and contextual factors, prenatal MA exposure was associated with poorer motor performance at 1 and 2 years on the BSID-II. No differences were observed for cognitive development (MDI). Relative to non-MA exposed children, longitudinal scores on the PDI and the gross motor scale of the PDMS-2 were 4.3 and 3.2 points lower, respectively. Being male and of Maori descent predicted lower cognitive scores (MDI) and being male predicted lower fine motor scores (PDMS-2)
Prenatal exposure to MA was associated with delayed gross motor development over the first 3 years, but not cognitive development. However, being male and of Maori descent were both associated with poorer cognitive outcomes. Males in general did more poorly on tasks related to fine motor development.
PMCID: PMC3997367  PMID: 24566524
Prenatal exposure; Methamphetamine; Neurodevelopment; Longitudinal
11.  Developmental Outcomes in Young Children Born to Mothers with West Nile Illness during Pregnancy 
West Nile virus (WNV) infection is associated with acute morbidity and mortality in adults and children. Information on the effects of maternal WNV illness during pregnancy on early childhood development is limited. This study was designed to examine the relationship between maternal WNV illness during pregnancy and birth and developmental outcomes at age 3 years.
Mother-child participants were identified using a national surveillance registry for women with WNV illness during pregnancy. Maternal and infant health data and relevant family characteristics were obtained through medical record reviews and maternal questionnaires. All infants received ophthalmologic examinations. Child development was evaluated at age 3 years using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development–Third Edition (Bayley-III).
As a group, the children’s (N = 11) birth weight, head circumference, and infant ophthalmologic examination results were within age expectations; one child was born preterm (gestational age 36 weeks). Mean (SD) age at the time of Bayley-III testing was 36.7 (3.8) months. The group’s mean performance on the Bayley-III was at or above age level in all domains, but one child showed a mild delay in the Adaptive domain. The variability observed in this sample (1/53 [1.9%] Domain scores < −2.0 SDs) was consistent with expectations based upon the distribution of Bayley-III Domain scores in the general population.
Maternal WNV infection does not appear to be associated with global developmental delays in young children. These results are preliminary, however, and require confirmation in future research.
PMCID: PMC4573576  PMID: 25196266
West Nile virus; pregnancy; infancy; early childhood development
12.  Maternal Vitamin D Status and Infant Outcomes in Rural Vietnam: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99005.
Vitamin D deficiency affects 1 billion people globally. It has an important role in bone homeostasis, brain development and modulation of the immune system and yet the impact of antenatal vitamin D deficiency on infant outcomes is poorly understood. We assessed the association of 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels (25-OHD) in late pregnancy and early infant growth and developmental outcomes in rural Vietnam.
Design and Methods
A prospective cohort study of 960 women who had previously participated in a double-blind cluster randomized controlled trial of antenatal micronutrient supplementation in rural Vietnam was undertaken. Maternal 25-OHD concentration was measured at 32 weeks gestation, and infants were followed until 6 months of age. Main outcome measures were cognitive, motor, socio-emotional and language scores using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd edition, and infant length-for-age z scores at 6 months of age.
60% (582/960) of women had 25-OHD levels <75 nmol/L at 32 weeks gestation. Infants born to women with 25-OHD deficiency (<37.5 nmol/L) had reduced developmental language scores compared to those born to women who were vitamin D replete (≥75 nmol/L) (Mean Difference (MD) −3.48, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) −5.67 to −1.28). For every 25 nmol increase in 25-OHD concentration in late pregnancy, infant length-for-age z scores at 6 months of age decreased by 0.08 (95% CI −0.15 to −0.02).
Low maternal 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels during late pregnancy are of concern in rural Vietnam, and are associated with reduced language developmental outcomes at 6 months of age. Our findings strengthen the evidence for giving vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC4072587  PMID: 24967813
13.  Determinants of periodontal health in pregnant women and association with infants’ anthropometric status: a prospective cohort study from Eastern Uganda 
Preterm-low birth weight delivery is a major cause of infant morbidity and mortality in sub Saharan Africa and has been linked to poor periodontal health during pregnancy. This study investigated predisposing and enabling factors as determinants of oral health indicators in pregnancy as well as the association between periodontal problems at 7 months gestational age and the infants’ anthropometric status.
A community –based prospective cohort study was conducted in Mbale, Eastern Uganda between 2006 and 2008. Upon recruitment, 713 pregnant women completed interviews and a full mouth oral clinical examination using the CPITN (Community Periodontal Index of Treatment Need) and OHI-S (Simplified Oral Hygiene) indices. A total of 593 women were followed up with anthropometric assessments of their infants 3 weeks after delivery. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to identify independent determinants of periodontal problems and use of dental services during pregnancy. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to investigate the relationship between periodontal problems and the child’s anthropometric status in terms of wasting, underweight and stunting.
A total of 67.0% women presented with periodontal problems, 12.1% with poor oral hygiene, 29.8% with recent dental visit and 65.0% with periodontal symptoms. Of the infants, 2.0% were wasted, 6.9% were underweight and 10.0% were stunted. The odds ratio of having CPI > 0 increased with increased maternal age and single marital status, and was lower in primiparous women and those who used mosquito bed nets. Mean wasting scores discriminated between mothers with CPI = 0 and CPI > 0 as well as between mothers with good and poor OHI-S scores.
Socio-demographic factors and information about oral health were associated with oral health indicators in pregnant women. Second, the height- for- age status at 3 weeks postpartum was worse in infants of mothers having periodontal problems and poor oral hygiene during pregnancy. Efforts to prevent oral diseases during pregnancy should be part of the local state and national health policy agenda in Uganda.
PMCID: PMC3515345  PMID: 22950749
Pregnancy; Oral health; Child; Anthropometric status
14.  Neurodevelopment and In Utero Antiretroviral Exposure of HIV-Exposed Uninfected Infants 
Pediatrics  2010;125(2):e250-e260.
Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are routinely provided to HIV-infected pregnant women to prevent HIV mother-to-child transmission. Although ARV use has significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission to <2% in the United States, it remains crucial to monitor uninfected infants and children for adverse consequences of in utero ARV exposure.
We studied neurodevelopmental function in HIV-exposed uninfected children who were enrolled in Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group 219/219C, a multisite, prospective, cohort study. Mental and motor functioning were assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID), first and second editions. ARV exposure information was collected during pregnancy or within the first years of life. Linear regression methods were used to evaluate the association of in utero ARV exposure on Mental Developmental Index and Psychomotor Developmental Index at 2 years of age, controlling for demographic factors (age, gender, and race/ethnicity) and potential confounders: test version, primary language, primary caregiver, caregiver education level, low birth weight, geographic and urban/rural location, birth year, and maternal illicit drug use.
Among 1840 infants who were born between 1993 and 2006, 1694 (92%) were exposed to ARV in utero and 146 (8%) were not exposed. After controlling for confounders, children who were exposed in utero to any ARV did not have lower Mental Developmental Index and Psychomotor Developmental Index scores than unexposed children. Among low birth weight infants, significantly higher BSID scores were observed for prenatally ARV-exposed than unexposed children. Maternal illicit drug use was reported for 17% of mothers but was not associated with BSID scores.
Mental and motor functioning scores were not lower for infants with in utero ARV exposure compared with no exposure. Although these results are reassuring, continued evaluation of uninfected children with in utero ARV exposure for long-term adverse outcomes is important.
PMCID: PMC2951128  PMID: 20083530
Bayley scales; mental development; motor development; maternal health; antiretroviral treatment; low birth weight
15.  Safety of Perinatal Exposure to Antiretroviral Medications: Developmental Outcomes in Infants 
This study evaluated effects of perinatal exposure to antiretroviral (ARV) medications on neurodevelopment of HIV-exposed, uninfected infants.
HIV-exposed, uninfected infants (age 9-15 months) enrolled in SMARTT, a multisite prospective surveillance study, completed the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development—Third Edition (Bayley-III), assessing cognition, language, motor skills, social-emotional development, and adaptive behavior. Linear regression models were used to evaluate associations between Bayley-III outcomes in infants with and without perinatal and neonatal ARV exposure, by regimen (combination ARV [cARV] versus non-cARV), type of regimen (defined by drug class), and individual ARVs (for infants with cARV exposure), adjusting for maternal and infant health and demographic covariates.
As of May 2010, 374 infants had valid Bayley-III evaluations. Median age at testing was 12.7 months; 49% male, 79% black, 16% Hispanic. Seventy-nine percent were exposed to regimens containing protease inhibitors (PIs; 9% of PI-containing regimens also included non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors [NNRTIs]), 5% to regimens containing NNRTIs (without PI), and 14% to regimens containing only nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Overall, 83% were exposed to cARV. No Bayley-III outcome was significantly associated with overall exposure to cARV, ARV regimen, or neonatal prophylaxis. For individual ARVs, following sensitivity analyses, the adjusted group mean on the Language domain was within age expectations but significantly lower for infants with perinatal exposure to atazanavir (p=0.01).
These results support the safety of perinatal ARV use. Continued monitoring for adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in older children is warranted, and the safety of atazanavir merits further study.
PMCID: PMC3723344  PMID: 23340561
HIV; ARV; infant; neurodevelopment; developmental assessment
16.  Prem Baby Triple P: a randomised controlled trial of enhanced parenting capacity to improve developmental outcomes in preterm infants 
BMC Pediatrics  2015;15:15.
Very preterm birth (<32 weeks gestation) is associated with motor, cognitive, behavioural and educational problems in children and maternal depression and withdrawal. Early interventions that target parenting have the greatest potential to create sustained effects on child development and parental psychopathology. Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) has shown positive effects on child behaviour and adjustment, parenting practices and family functioning. Baby Triple P for Preterm infants, has been developed to target parents of very preterm infants. This study tests the effectiveness of Baby Triple P for Preterm infants in improving child and parent/couple outcomes at 24 months corrected age (CA).
Families will be randomised to receive either Baby Triple P for Preterm infants or Care as Usual (CAU). Baby Triple P for Preterm infants involves 4 × 2 hr group sessions at the hospital plus 4 × 30 min telephone consultations soon after transfer (42 weeks C.A.). After discharge participants will be linked to community based Triple P and intervention maintenance up to 24 months C.A. Assessments will be: baseline, post-intervention (6 weeks C.A.), at 12 and 24 months C.A. The primary outcome measure is the Infant Toddler Social & Emotional Assessment (ITSEA) at 24 months C.A. Child behavioural and emotional problems will be coded using the mother-toddler version of the Family Observation Schedule at 24 months C.A. Secondary outcome will be the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (BSID III) cognitive development, language and motor abilities. Proximal targets of parenting style, parental self-efficacy, parental mental health, parental adjustment, parent-infant attachment, couple relationship satisfaction and couple communication will also be assessed. Our sample size based on the ITSEA, has 80% power, predicted effect size of 0.33 and an 85% retention rate, requires 165 families are required in each group (total sample of 330 families).
This protocol presents the study design, methods and intervention to be analysed in a randomised trial of Baby Triple P for Preterm infants compared to Care as Usual (CAU) for families of very preterm infants. Publications of all outcomes will be published in peer reviewed journals according to CONSORT guidelines.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12612000194864.
PMCID: PMC4363360  PMID: 25884634
Preterm infants; Behavioral family intervention; Child behavioral adjustment; Child emotional adjustment; Child cognitive and language development; Parenting support/education
17.  Advanced Paternal Age Is Associated with Impaired Neurocognitive Outcomes during Infancy and Childhood 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000040.
Advanced paternal age (APA) is associated with an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia, as well as with dyslexia and reduced intelligence. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between paternal age and performance on neurocognitive measures during infancy and childhood.
Methods and Findings
A sample of singleton children (n = 33,437) was drawn from the US Collaborative Perinatal Project. The outcome measures were assessed at 8 mo, 4 y, and 7 y (Bayley scales, Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale, Graham-Ernhart Block Sort Test, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Wide Range Achievement Test). The main analyses examined the relationship between neurocognitive measures and paternal or maternal age when adjusted for potential confounding factors. Advanced paternal age showed significant associations with poorer scores on all of the neurocognitive measures apart from the Bayley Motor score. The findings were broadly consistent in direction and effect size at all three ages. In contrast, advanced maternal age was generally associated with better scores on these same measures.
The offspring of older fathers show subtle impairments on tests of neurocognitive ability during infancy and childhood. In light of secular trends related to delayed fatherhood, the clinical implications and the mechanisms underlying these findings warrant closer scrutiny.
Using a sample of children from the US Collaborative Perinatal Project, John McGrath and colleagues show that the offspring of older fathers exhibit subtle impairments on tests of neurocognitive ability during infancy and childhood.
Editors' Summary
Over the last few decades, changes in society in the developed world have made it increasingly common for couples to wait until their late thirties to have children. In 1993, 25% of live births within marriage in England and Wales were to fathers aged 35–54 years, but by 2003 it was 40%. It is well known that women's fertility declines with age and that older mothers are more likely to have children with disabilities such as Down's syndrome. In contrast, many men can father children throughout their lives, and little attention has been paid to the effects of older fatherhood.
More recent evidence shows that a man's age does affect both fertility and the child's health. “Advanced paternal age” has been linked to miscarriages, birth deformities, cancer, and specific behavioral problems such as autism or schizophrenia.
Rates of autism have increased in recent decades, but the cause is unknown. Studies of twins and families have suggested there may be a complex genetic basis, and it is suspected that damage to sperm, which can accumulate over a man's lifetime, may be responsible. A woman's eggs are formed largely while she is herself in the womb, but sperm-making cells divide throughout a man's lifetime, increasing the chance of mutations in sperm.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is good evidence linking specific disorders with older fathers, but the link between a father's age and a child's more general intelligence is not as clear. A recent study suggested a link between reduced intelligence and both very young and older fathers. The authors wanted to use this large dataset to test the idea that older fathers have children who do worse on tests of intelligence. They also wanted to re-examine others' findings using this same dataset that older mothers have more intelligent children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers gathered no new data but reanalyzed data on children from the US Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP), which had used a variety of tests given to children at ages 8 months, 4 years, and 7 years, to measure cognitive ability—the ability to think and reason, including concentration, memory, learning, understanding, speaking, and reading. Some tests included assessments of “motor skills”—physical co-ordination.
The CPP dataset holds information on children of 55,908 expectant mothers who attended 12 university-affiliated hospital clinics in the United States from 1959 to 1965. The researchers excluded premature babies and multiple births and chose one pregnancy at random for each eligible woman, to keep their analysis simpler. This approach reduced the number of children in their analysis to 33,437.
The researchers analyzed the data using two models. In one, they took into account physical factors such as the parents' ages. In the other, they also took into account social factors such as the parents' level of education and income, which are linked to intelligence. In addition, the authors grouped the children by their mother's age and, within each group, looked for a link between the lowest-scoring children and the age of their father.
The researchers found that children with older fathers had lower scores on all of the measures except one measure of motor skills. In contrast, children with older mothers had higher scores. They found that the older the father, the more likely was this result found.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study is the first to show that children of older fathers perform less well in a range of tests when young, but cannot say whether those children catch up with their peers after the age of 7 years. Results may also be biased because information was more likely to be missing for children whose father's age was not recorded.
Previous researchers had proposed that children of older mothers may perform better in tests because they experience a more nurturing home environment. If this is the case, children of older fathers do not experience the same benefit.
However, further work needs to be done to confirm these findings. Especially in newer datasets, current trends to delay parenthood mean these findings have implications for individuals, couples, and policymakers. Individuals and couples need to be aware that the ages of both partners can affect their ability to have healthy children, though the risks for individual children are small. Policymakers should consider promoting awareness of the risks of delaying parenthood or introducing policies to encourage childbearing at an optimal age.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Mothers 35+ is a UK Web site with resources and information for older mothers, mothers-to-be, and would-be mothers, including information on the health implications of fathering a child late in life
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine published a Patient Information Booklet on Age and Fertility in 2003, which is available online; it contains a small section called “Fertility in the Aging Male,” but otherwise focuses on women
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has a short article on the “Paternal age effect” (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
In 2005, the UK Office of National Statistics published a booklet entitled “Perpetual postponers? Women's, men's and couple's fertility intentions and subsequent fertility behaviour” looking at data from the British Household Panel Survey
PMCID: PMC2653549  PMID: 19278291
18.  Infant Growth and Child Cognition at 3 Years of Age 
Pediatrics  2008;122(3):e689-e695.
Infancy is a critical period for brain development. Few studies have examined the extent to which infant weight gain is associated with later neurodevelopmental outcomes in healthy populations.
The purpose of this work was to examine associations of infant weight gain from birth to 6 months with child cognitive and visual-motor skills at 3 years of age.
We studied 872 participants in Project Viva, an ongoing prospective, longitudinal, prebirth cohort. We abstracted birth weight from the medical chart and weighed infants at 6 months of age. We used the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts to derive weight-for-age z scores. Our primary predictor was infant weight gain, defined as the weight-for-age z score at 6 months adjusted for the weight-for-age z score at birth. At 3 years of age, we measured child cognition with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III and visual-motor skills with the Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities.
Mean Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III score was 104.2, and mean Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities test score was 102.8. Mean birth weight z score was 0.21, and mean 6-month weight z score was 0.39. In multiple linear regression adjusted for child age, gender, gestational age, breastfeeding duration, primary language, and race/ethnicity; maternal age, parity, smoking status, and cognition; and parental education and income level, we found no association of infant weight gain with child Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III score (−0.4 points per z score weight gain increment, 95% confidence interval −1.3, 0.6) or total Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities standard score (−0.4 points, 95% confidence interval −1.2, 0.5).
Slower infant weight gain was not associated with poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes in healthy, term-born 3-year-old children. These results should aid in determining optimal growth patterns in infants to balance risks and benefits of health outcomes through the life course.
PMCID: PMC2761622  PMID: 18762504
infant growth; neurodevelopment
19.  The effect of iodine supplementation in pregnancy on early childhood neurodevelopment and clinical outcomes: results of an aborted randomised placebo-controlled trial 
Trials  2015;16:563.
Concern that mild iodine deficiency in pregnancy may adversely affect neurodevelopment of offspring has led to recommendations for iodine supplementation in the absence of evidence from randomised controlled trials. The primary objective of the study was to investigate the effect of iodine supplementation during pregnancy on childhood neurodevelopment. Secondary outcomes included pregnancy outcomes, maternal thyroid function and general health.
Women with a singleton pregnancy of fewer than 20 weeks were randomly assigned to iodine (150 μg/d) or placebo from trial entry to birth. Childhood neurodevelopment was assessed at 18 months by using Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (Bayley-III). Iodine status and thyroid function were assessed at baseline and at 36 weeks’ gestation. Pregnancy outcomes were collected from medical records.
The trial was stopped after 59 women were randomly assigned following withdrawal of support by the funding body. There were no differences in childhood neurodevelopmental scores between the iodine treated and placebo groups. The mean cognitive, language and motor scores on the Bayley-III (iodine versus placebo, respectively) were 99.4 ± 12.2 versus 101.7 ± 8.2 (mean difference (MD) −2.3, 95 % confidence interval (CI) −7.8, 3.2; P = 0.42), 97.2 ± 12.2 versus 97.9 ± 11.5 (MD −0.7, 95 % CI −7.0, 5.6; P = 0.83) and 93.9 ± 10.8 versus 92.4 ± 9.7 (MD 1.4, 95 % CI −4.0, 6.9; P = 0.61), respectively. No differences were identified between groups in any secondary outcomes.
Iodine supplementation in pregnancy did not result in better childhood neurodevelopment in this small trial. Adequately powered randomised controlled trials are needed to provide conclusive evidence regarding the effect of iodine supplementation in pregnancy.
Trials registration
The trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry at The registration number of this trial is ACTRN12610000411044. The trial was registered on 21 May 2010.
PMCID: PMC4675066  PMID: 26654905
Iodine; Supplementation; Pregnancy; Child development; RCT
20.  Chorioamnionitis and Early Childhood Outcomes among Extremely Low-Gestational-Age Neonates 
JAMA pediatrics  2014;168(2):137-147.
Chorioamnionitis is strongly linked to preterm birth and to neonatal infection. The association between histological and clinical chorioamnionitis and cognitive, behavioral and neurodevelopmental outcomes among extremely preterm neonates is less clear. We evaluated the impact of chorioamnionitis on 18-22 month neurodevelopmental outcomes in a contemporary cohort of extremely preterm neonates.
To compare the neonatal and neurodevelopmental outcomes of three groups of extremely-low-gestational-age infants with increasing exposure to perinatal inflammation: no chorioamnionitis, histological chorioamnionitis alone, or histological plus clinical chorioamnionitis.
Longitudinal observational study.
Sixteen centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network.
2390 extremely preterm infants born <27 weeks' gestational age between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008 with placental histopathology and 18-22 months' corrected age follow-up data were eligible.
Main exposure
Main Outcome Measures
Outcomes included cerebral palsy, gross motor functional limitation, behavioral scores (according to the Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment), cognitive and language scores (according to the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 3rd-Edition) and composite measures of death/neurodevelopmental impairment. Multivariable logistic and linear regression models were developed to assess the association between chorioamnionitis and outcomes while controlling for important variables known at birth.
Neonates exposed to chorioamnionitis had a lower gestational age (GA) and had higher rates of early-onset sepsis and severe periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage as compared with unexposed neonates. In multivariable models evaluating death and neurodevelopmental outcomes, inclusion of gestational age in the model diminished the association between chorioamnionitis and adverse outcomes. Still, histological+clinical chorioamnionitis was associated with increased risk of cognitive impairment as compared with no chorioamnionitis (Adjusted OR 2.4, [1.3- 4.3] without GA; Adjusted OR 2.0, [1.1-3.6] with GA as a covariate). Histological chorioamnionitis alone was associated with lower odds of death/neurodevelopmental impairment as compared with histological+clinical chorioamnionitis (Adjusted OR 0.68, [0.52-0.89] without GA; 0.66, [0.49-0.89] with GA). Risk of behavioral problems did not differ statistically between groups.
Conclusions and Relevance
Antenatal exposure to chorioamnionitis is associated with altered odds of cognitive impairment and death/neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC4219500  PMID: 24378638
chorioamnionitis; preterm; neurodevelopmental impairment; outcome
21.  Are Outcomes of Extremely Preterm Infants Improving? Impact of Bayley Assessment on Outcomes 
The Journal of pediatrics  2012;161(2):222-8.e3.
To compare 18- to 22-month cognitive scores and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in 2 time periods using the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Neonatal Research Network assessment of extremely low birth weight infants with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition (Bayley II) in 2006–2007 (period 1) and using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (Bayley III), with separate cognitive and language scores, in 2008–2011 (period 2).
Study design
Scores were compared with bivariate analysis, and regression analyses were run to identify differences in NDI rates.
Mean Bayley III cognitive scores were 11 points higher than mean Bayley II cognitive scores. The NDI rate was reduced by 70% (from 43% in period 1 to 13% in period 2; P < .0001). Multivariate analyses revealed that Bayley III contributed to a decreased risk of NDI by 5 definitions: cognitive score <70 and <85, cognitive or language score <70; cognitive or motor score <70, and cognitive, language, or motor score <70 (P < .001).
Whether the Bayley III is overestimating cognitive performance or whether it is a more valid assessment of emerging cognitive skills than the Bayley II is uncertain. Because the Bayley III identifies significantly fewer children with disability, it is recommended that all extremely low birth weight infants be offered early intervention services at the time of discharge from the neonatal intensive care unit, and that Bayley scores be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC3796892  PMID: 22421261
22.  A randomized controlled trial of pre-conception treatment for periodontal disease to improve periodontal status during pregnancy and birth outcomes 
Evidence has suggested that periodontal disease is associated with an increased risk of various adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. However, several large clinical randomized controlled trials failed to demonstrate periodontal therapy during pregnancy reduced the incidence of adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. It has been suggested that the pre-conception period may be an optimal period for periodontal disease treatment rather than during pregnancy. To date, no randomized controlled trial (RCT) has examined if treating periodontal disease before pregnancy reduces adverse birth outcomes. This study aims to examine if the pre-conception treatment of periodontal disease will lead to improved periodontal status during late pregnancy and subsequent birth outcomes.
A sample of 470 (235 in each arm of the study) pre-conception women who plan to conceive within one year and with periodontal disease will be recruited for the study. All participants will be randomly allocated to the intervention or control group. The intervention group will receive free therapy including dental scaling and root planning (the standard therapy), supragingival prophylaxis, and oral hygiene education. The control group will only receive supragingival prophylaxis and oral hygiene education. Women will be followed throughout their pregnancy and then to childbirth. The main outcomes include periodontal disease status in late pregnancy and birth outcomes measured such as mean birth weight (grams), and mean gestational age (weeks). Periodontal disease will be diagnosed through a dental examination by measuring probing depth, clinical attachment loss and percentage of bleeding on probing (BOP) between gestational age of 32 and 36 weeks. Local and systemic inflammatory mediators are also included as main outcomes.
This will be the first RCT to test whether treating periodontal disease among pre-conception women reduces periodontal disease during pregnancy and prevents adverse birth outcomes. If the effect of pre-pregnancy periodontal treatment is confirmed, this intervention could be recommended for application in low- or middle-income countries to improve both oral health and maternal and child health.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (ChiCTR): ChiCTR-TRC-12001913.
PMCID: PMC4029591  PMID: 24321402
Pre-conception; Periodontal disease; Birth outcomes; Inflammatory mediators
23.  Measuring Coverage in MNCH: Population HIV-Free Survival among Children under Two Years of Age in Four African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001424.
Population-based evaluations of programs for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) are scarce. We measured PMTCT service coverage, regimen use, and HIV-free survival among children ≤24 mo of age in Cameroon, Côte D'Ivoire, South Africa, and Zambia.
Methods and Findings
We randomly sampled households in 26 communities and offered participation if a child had been born to a woman living there during the prior 24 mo. We tested consenting mothers with rapid HIV antibody tests and tested the children of seropositive mothers with HIV DNA PCR or rapid antibody tests. Our primary outcome was 24-mo HIV-free survival, estimated with survival analysis. In an individual-level analysis, we evaluated the effectiveness of various PMTCT regimens. In a community-level analysis, we evaluated the relationship between HIV-free survival and community PMTCT coverage (the proportion of HIV-exposed infants in each community that received any PMTCT intervention during gestation or breastfeeding). We also compared our community coverage results to those of a contemporaneous study conducted in the facilities serving each sampled community. Of 7,985 surveyed children under 2 y of age, 1,014 (12.7%) were HIV-exposed. Of these, 110 (10.9%) were HIV-infected, 851 (83.9%) were HIV-uninfected, and 53 (5.2%) were dead. HIV-free survival at 24 mo of age among all HIV-exposed children was 79.7% (95% CI: 76.4, 82.6) overall, with the following country-level estimates: Cameroon (72.6%; 95% CI: 62.3, 80.5), South Africa (77.7%; 95% CI: 72.5, 82.1), Zambia (83.1%; 95% CI: 78.4, 86.8), and Côte D'Ivoire (84.4%; 95% CI: 70.0, 92.2). In adjusted analyses, the risk of death or HIV infection was non-significantly lower in children whose mothers received a more complex regimen of either two or three antiretroviral drugs compared to those receiving no prophylaxis (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.60; 95% CI: 0.34, 1.06). Risk of death was not different for children whose mothers received a more complex regimen compared to those given single-dose nevirapine (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.45, 1.72). Community PMTCT coverage was highest in Cameroon, where 75 of 114 HIV-exposed infants met criteria for coverage (66%; 95% CI: 56, 74), followed by Zambia (219 of 444, 49%; 95% CI: 45, 54), then South Africa (152 of 365, 42%; 95% CI: 37, 47), and then Côte D'Ivoire (3 of 53, 5.7%; 95% CI: 1.2, 16). In a cluster-level analysis, community PMTCT coverage was highly correlated with facility PMTCT coverage (Pearson's r = 0.85), and moderately correlated with 24-mo HIV-free survival (Pearson's r = 0.29). In 14 of 16 instances where both the facility and community samples were large enough for comparison, the facility-based coverage measure exceeded that observed in the community.
HIV-free survival can be estimated with community surveys and should be incorporated into ongoing country monitoring. Facility-based coverage measures correlate with those derived from community sampling, but may overestimate population coverage. The more complex regimens recommended by the World Health Organization seem to have measurable public health benefit at the population level, but power was limited and additional field validation is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
For a pregnant woman who is HIV-positive, the discrepancy across the world in outlook for mother and child is stark. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV during pregnancy is now less than 1% in many high-income settings, but occurs much more often in low-income countries. Three interventions have a major impact on transmission of HIV to the baby: antiretroviral drugs, mode of delivery, and type of infant feeding. The latter two are complex, as the interventions commonly used in high-income countries (cesarean section if the maternal viral load is high; exclusive formula feeding) have their own risks in low-income settings. Minimizing the risks of transmitting HIV through effective drug regimes therefore becomes particularly important. Monitoring progress on reducing the incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission is essential, but not always easy to achieve.
Why Was This Study Done?
A research group led by Stringer and colleagues recently reported a study from four countries in Africa: Cameroon, Côte D'Ivoire, South Africa, and Zambia. The study showed that even in the health facility setting (e.g., hospitals and clinics), only half of infants whose mothers were HIV-positive received the minimum recommended drug treatment (one dose of nevirapine during labor) to prevent HIV transmission. Across the population of these countries, it is possible that fewer receive antiretroviral drugs, as the study did not include women who did not access health facilities. Therefore, the next stage of the study by this research group, reported here, involved going into the communities around these health facilities to find out how many infants under two years old had been exposed to HIV, whether they had received drugs to prevent transmission, and what proportion were alive and not infected with HIV at two years old.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested all consenting women who had delivered a baby in the last two years in the surrounding communities. If the mother was found to be HIV-positive, then the infant was also tested for HIV. The researchers then calculated how many of the infants would be alive at two years and free of HIV infection.
Most mothers (78%) agreed to testing for themselves and their infants. There were 7,985 children under two years of age in this study, of whom 13% had been born to an HIV-positive mother. Less than half (46%) of the HIV-positive mothers had received any drugs to prevent HIV transmission. Of the children with HIV-positive mothers, 11% were HIV-infected, 84% were not infected with HIV, and 5% had died. Overall, the researchers estimated that around 80% of these children would be alive at two years without HIV infection. This proportion differed non-significantly between the four countries (ranging from 73% to 84%). The researchers found higher rates of infant survival than they had expected and knew that they might have missed some infant deaths (e.g., if households with infant deaths were less likely to take part in the study).
The researchers found that their estimates of the proportion of HIV-positive mothers who received drugs to prevent transmission were fairly similar between their previous study, looking at health facilities, and this study of the surrounding communities. However, in 14 out of 16 comparisons, the estimate from the community was lower than that from the facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that it would be possible to estimate how many infants are surviving free of HIV infection using a study based in the community, and that these estimates may be more accurate than those for studies based in health facilities. There are still a large proportion of HIV-positive mothers who are not receiving drugs to prevent transmission to the baby. The authors suggest that using two or three drugs to prevent HIV may help to reduce transmission.
There are already community surveys conducted in many low-income countries, but they have not included routine infant testing for HIV. It is now essential that organizations providing drugs, money, and infrastructure in this field consider more accurate means of monitoring incidence of HIV transmission from mother to infant, particularly at the community level.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization has more information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The United Nations Children's Fund has more information on the status of national PMTCT responses in the most affected countries
PMCID: PMC3646218  PMID: 23667341
24.  Maternal urinary iodine concentration in pregnancy and children's cognition: results from a population-based birth cohort in an iodine-sufficient area 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e005520.
Reports from populations with an insufficient iodine intake suggest that children of mothers with mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy are at risk for cognitive impairments. However, it is unknown whether, even in iodine-sufficient areas, low levels of iodine intake occur that influence cognitive development in the offspring. This study investigated the association between maternal low urinary iodine concentration (UIC) in pregnancy and children's cognition in a population-based sample from a country with an optimal iodine status (the Netherlands).
Setting and participants
In 1525 mother–child pairs in a Dutch multiethnic birth cohort, we investigated the relation between maternal UIC<150 μg/g creatinine, assessed <18 weeks gestation and children's cognition.
Outcomes measures
Non-verbal IQ and language comprehension were assessed during a visit to the research centre using Dutch test batteries when the children were 6 years.
In total, 188 (12.3%) pregnant women had UIC<150 μg/g creatinine, with a median UIC equal to 119.3 μg/g creatinine. The median UIC in the group with UIC>150 μg/g creatinine was 322.9 μg/g and in the whole sample 296.5 μg/g creatinine. There was a univariate association between maternal low UIC and children's suboptimum non-verbal IQ (unadjusted OR=1.44, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.02). However, after adjustment for confounders, maternal low UIC was not associated with children's non-verbal IQ (adjusted OR=1.33, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.93). There was no relation between maternal UIC in early pregnancy and children's language comprehension at 6 years.
The lack of a clear association between maternal low UIC and children's cognition probably reflects that low levels of iodine were not frequent and severe enough to affect neurodevelopment. This may result from the Dutch iodine fortification policy, which allows iodised salt to be added to almost all processed food and emphasises the monitoring of iodine intake in the population.
PMCID: PMC4067856  PMID: 24928597
25.  Maternal common mental disorders and infant development in Ethiopia: the P-MaMiE Birth Cohort 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:693.
Chronicity and severity of early exposure to maternal common mental disorders (CMD) has been associated with poorer infant development in high-income countries. In low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs), perinatal CMD is inconsistently associated with infant development, but the impact of severity and persistence has not been examined.
A nested population-based cohort of 258 pregnant women was identified from the Perinatal Maternal Mental Disorder in Ethiopia (P-MaMiE) study, and 194 (75.2%) were successfully followed up until the infants were 12 months of age. Maternal CMD was measured in pregnancy and at two and 12 months postnatal using the WHO Self-Reporting Questionnaire, validated for use in this setting. Infant outcomes were evaluated using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.
Antenatal maternal CMD symptoms were associated with poorer infant motor development (β^ -0.20; 95% CI: -0.37 to -0.03), but this became non-significant after adjusting for confounders. Postnatal CMD symptoms were not associated with any domain of infant development. There was evidence of a dose-response relationship between the number of time-points at which the mother had high levels of CMD symptoms (SRQ ≥ 6) and impaired infant motor development (β^ = -0.80; 95%CI -2.24, 0.65 for ante- or postnatal CMD only, β^ = -4.19; 95%CI -8.60, 0.21 for ante- and postnatal CMD, compared to no CMD; test-for-trend χ213.08(1), p < 0.001). Although this association became non-significant in the fully adjusted model, the β^ coefficients were unchanged indicating that the relationship was not confounded. In multivariable analyses, lower socio-economic status and lower infant weight-for-age were associated with significantly lower scores on both motor and cognitive developmental scales. Maternal experience of physical violence was significantly associated with impaired cognitive development.
The study supports the hypothesis that it is the accumulation of risk exposures across time rather than early exposure to maternal CMD per se that is more likely to affect child development. Further investigation of the impact of chronicity of maternal CMD upon child development in LAMICs is indicated. In the Ethiopian setting, poverty, interpersonal violence and infant undernutrition should be targets for interventions to reduce the loss of child developmental potential.
PMCID: PMC3091583  PMID: 21073710

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