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1.  Developmental Trajectories of Children with Birth Asphyxia through 36 Months of Age in Low/Low-Middle Income Countries 
Early human development  2014;90(7):343-348.
Resuscitation following birth asphyxia reduces mortality, but may be argued to increase risk for neurodevelopmental disability in survivors.
To test the hypothesis that development of infants who received resuscitation following birth asphyxia is not significantly different through 36 months of age from infants who had healthy births.
Study Design
Prospective observational cohort design comparing infants exposed to birth asphyxia with resuscitation or healthy birth.
A random sample of infants with birth asphyxia who received bag-and-mask resuscitation was selected from birth records in selected communities in 3 countries. Exclusion criteria: birth weight < 1500g, severely abnormal neurological examination at 7 days, mother < 15 years, unable to participate, or not expected to remain in the target area. A random sample of healthy-birth infants (no resuscitation, normal neurological exam) was also selected. Eligible = 438, consented = 407, and ≥ 1 valid developmental assessment during first 36 months = 376.
Outcome Measure(s)
Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II Mental (MDI) and Psychomotor (PDI) Development Index.
Trajectories of MDI (p = .069) and PDI (p = .143) over 3 yearly assessments did not differ between children with birth asphyxia and healthy-birth children. Rather there was a trend for birth asphyxia children to improve more than healthy-birth children.
The large majority of infants who are treated with resuscitation and survived birth asphyxia can be expected to evidence normal development at least until age 3. The risk for neurodevelopmental disability should not justify the restriction of effective therapies for birth asphyxia.
PMCID: PMC4097313  PMID: 24815056
Birth asphyxia; resuscitation; low resource countries; developmental outcomes; neurodevelopmental disability
2.  Data quality monitoring and performance metrics of a prospective, population-based observational study of maternal and newborn health in low resource settings 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S2.
To describe quantitative data quality monitoring and performance metrics adopted by the Global Network’s (GN) Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR), a maternal and perinatal population-based registry (MPPBR) based in low and middle income countries (LMICs).
Ongoing prospective, population-based data on all pregnancy outcomes within defined geographical locations participating in the GN have been collected since 2008. Data quality metrics were defined and are implemented at the cluster, site and the central level to ensure data quality. Quantitative performance metrics are described for data collected between 2010 and 2013.
Delivery outcome rates over 95% illustrate that all sites are successful in following patients from pregnancy through delivery. Examples of specific performance metric reports illustrate how both the metrics and reporting process are used to identify cluster-level and site-level quality issues and illustrate how those metrics track over time. Other summary reports (e.g. the increasing proportion of measured birth weight compared to estimated and missing birth weight) illustrate how a site has improved quality over time.
High quality MPPBRs such as the MNHR provide key information on pregnancy outcomes to local and international health officials where civil registration systems are lacking. The MNHR has measures in place to monitor data collection procedures and improve the quality of data collected. Sites have increasingly achieved acceptable values of performance metrics over time, indicating improvements in data quality, but the quality control program must continue to evolve to optimize the use of the MNHR to assess the impact of community interventions in research protocols in pregnancy and perinatal health.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4464020  PMID: 26062714
data monitoring; data quality; maternal health; newborn health; perinatal registry; metrics; low-income countries
3.  Stillbirth rates in low-middle income countries 2010 - 2013: a population-based, multi-country study from the Global Network 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S7.
Stillbirth rates remain nearly ten times higher in low-middle income countries (LMIC) than high income countries. In LMIC, where nearly 98% of stillbirths worldwide occur, few population-based studies have documented characteristics or care for mothers with stillbirths. Non-macerated stillbirths, those occurring around delivery, are generally considered preventable with appropriate obstetric care.
We undertook a prospective, population-based observational study of all pregnant women in defined geographic areas across 7 sites in low-resource settings (Kenya, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Argentina). Staff collected demographic and health care characteristics with outcomes obtained at delivery.
From 2010 through 2013, 269,614 enrolled women had 272,089 births, including 7,865 stillbirths. The overall stillbirth rate was 28.9/1000 births, ranging from 13.6/1000 births in Argentina to 56.5/1000 births in Pakistan. Stillbirth rates were stable or declined in 6 of the 7 sites from 2010-2013, only increasing in Pakistan. Less educated, older and women with less access to antenatal care were at increased risk of stillbirth. Furthermore, women not delivered by a skilled attendant were more likely to have a stillbirth (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.2, 3.5). Compared to live births, stillbirths were more likely to be preterm (RR 12.4, 95% CI 11.2, 13.6). Infants with major congenital anomalies were at increased risk of stillbirth (RR 9.1, 95% CI 7.3, 11.4), as were multiple gestations (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.4, 3.2) and breech (RR 3.0, 95% CI 2.6, 3.5). Altogether, 67.4% of the stillbirths were non-macerated. 7.6% of women with stillbirths had cesarean sections, with obstructed labor the primary indication (36.9%).
Stillbirth rates were high, but with reductions in most sites during the study period. Disadvantaged women, those with less antenatal care and those delivered without a skilled birth attendant were at increased risk of delivering a stillbirth. More than two-thirds of all stillbirths were non-macerated, suggesting potentially preventable stillbirth. Additionally, 8% of women with stillbirths were delivered by cesarean section. The relatively high rate of cesarean section among those with stillbirths suggested that this care was too late or not of quality to prevent the stillbirth; however, further research is needed to evaluate the quality of obstetric care, including cesarean section, on stillbirth in these low resource settings.
Study registration (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464024  PMID: 26063292
Stillbirth; low-middle income countries; obstetric care
4.  Adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes in adolescent pregnancies: The Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S8.
Adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years give birth to around 16 million babies each year, around 11% of births worldwide. We sought to determine whether adolescent mothers are at higher risk of maternal and perinatal adverse outcomes compared with mothers aged 20–24 years in a prospective, population-based observational study of newborn outcomes in low resource settings.
We undertook a prospective, population-based multi-country research study of all pregnant women in defined geographic areas across 7 sites in six low-middle income countries (Kenya, Zambia, India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Argentina). The study population for this analysis was restricted to women aged 24 years or less, who gave birth to infants of at least 20 weeks’ gestation and 500g or more. We compared adverse pregnancy maternal and perinatal outcomes among pregnant adolescents 15-19 years, <15 years, and adults 20-24 years.
A total of 269,273 women were enrolled from January 2010 to December 2013. Of all pregnancies 11.9% (32,097/269,273) were in adolescents 15-19 years, while 0.14% (370/269,273) occurred among girls <15 years. Pregnancy among adolescents 15-19 years ranged from 2% in Pakistan to 26% in Argentina, and adolescent pregnancies <15 year were only observed in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Compared to adults, adolescents did not show increased risk of maternal adverse outcomes. Risks of preterm birth and LBW were significantly higher among both early and older adolescents, with the highest risks observed in the <15 years group. Neonatal and perinatal mortality followed a similar trend in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, with the highest risk in early adolescents, although the differences in this age group were not significant. However, in South Asia the risks of neonatal and perinatal death were not different among adolescents 15-19 years compared to adults.
This study suggests that pregnancy among adolescents is not associated with worse maternal outcomes, but is associated with worse perinatal outcomes, particularly in younger adolescents. However, this may not be the case in regions like South Asia where there are decreasing rates of adolescent pregnancies, concentrated among older adolescents. The increased risks observed among adolescents seems more likely to be associated with biological immaturity, than with socio-economic factors, inadequate antenatal or delivery care.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4464033  PMID: 26063350
adolescent pregnancy
5.  Risk factors for maternal death and trends in maternal mortality in low- and middle-income countries: a prospective longitudinal cohort analysis 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S5.
Because large, prospective, population-based data sets describing maternal outcomes are typically not available in low- and middle-income countries, it is difficult to monitor maternal mortality rates over time and to identify factors associated with maternal mortality. Early identification of risk factors is essential to develop comprehensive intervention strategies preventing pregnancy-related complications. Our objective was to describe maternal mortality rates in a large, multi-country dataset and to determine maternal, pregnancy-related, delivery and postpartum characteristics that are associated with maternal mortality.
We collected data describing all pregnancies from 2010 to 2013 among women enrolled in the multi-national Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research Maternal and Neonatal Health Registry (MNHR). We reported the proportion of mothers who died per pregnancy and the maternal mortality ratio (MMR). Generalized linear models were used to evaluate the relationship of potential medical and social factors and maternal mortality and to develop point and interval estimates of relative risk associated with these factors. Generalized estimating equations were used to account for the correlation of outcomes within cluster to develop appropriate confidence intervals.
We recorded 277,736 pregnancies and 402 maternal deaths for an MMR of 153/100,000 live births. We observed an improvement in the total MMR from 166 in 2010 to 126 in 2013. The MMR in Latin American sites (91) was lower than the MMR in Asian (178) and African sites (125). When adjusted for study site and the other variables, no formal education (RR 3.2 [1.5, 6.9]), primary education only (RR 3.4 [1.6, 7.5]), secondary education only (RR 2.5 [1.1, 5.7]), lack of antenatal care (RR 1.8 [1.2, 2.5]), caesarean section delivery (RR 1.9 [1.3, 2.8]), hemorrhage (RR 3.3 [2.2, 5.1]), and hypertensive disorders (RR 7.4 [5.2, 10.4]) were associated with higher risks of death.
The MNHR identified preventable causes of maternal mortality in diverse settings in low- and middle-income countries. The MNHR can be used to monitor public health strategies and determine their association with reducing maternal mortality.
Trial Registration NCT01073475
PMCID: PMC4464034  PMID: 26062992
6.  Maternal and newborn outcomes in Pakistan compared to other low and middle income countries in the Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry: an active, community-based, pregnancy surveillance mechanism 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S15.
Despite global improvements in maternal and newborn health (MNH), maternal, fetal and newborn mortality rates in Pakistan remain stagnant. Using data from the Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR) the objective of this study is to compare the rates of maternal mortality, stillbirth and newborn mortality and levels of putative risk factors between the Pakistani site and those in other countries.
Using data collected through a multi-site, prospective, ongoing, active surveillance system to track pregnancies and births in communities in discrete geographical areas in seven sites across six countries including Pakistan, India, Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala and Argentina from 2010 to 2013, the study compared MNH outcomes and risk factors. The MNHR captures more than 60,000 deliveries annually across all sites with over 10,000 of them in Thatta, Pakistan.
The Pakistan site had a maternal mortality ratio almost three times that of the other sites (313/100,000 vs 116/100,000). Stillbirth (56.5 vs 22.9/1000 births), neonatal mortality (50.0 vs 20.7/1000 livebirths) and perinatal mortality rates (95.2/1000 vs 39.0/1000 births) in Thatta, Pakistan were more than twice those of the other sites. The Pakistani site is the only one in the Global Network where maternal mortality increased (from 231/100,000 to 353/100,000) over the study period and fetal and neonatal outcomes remained stagnant. The Pakistan site lags behind other sites in maternal education, high parity, and appropriate antenatal and postnatal care. However, facility delivery and skilled birth attendance rates were less prominently different between the Pakistani site and other sites, with the exception of India. The difference in the fetal and neonatal outcomes between the Pakistani site and the other sites was most pronounced amongst normal birth weight babies.
The increase in maternal mortality and the stagnation of fetal and neonatal outcomes from 2010 to 2013 indicates that current levels of antenatal and newborn care interventions in Thatta, Pakistan are insufficient to protect against poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. Delivery care in the Pakistani site, while appearing quantitatively equivalent to the care in sites in Africa, is less effective in saving the lives of women and their newborns. By the metrics available from this study, the quality of obstetric and neonatal care in the site in Pakistan is poor.
Trial registration
The study is registered at [NCT01073475].
PMCID: PMC4464035  PMID: 26062610
Pakistan; maternal mortality; stillbirth; neonatal mortality
7.  A prospective observational description of frequency and timing of antenatal care attendance and coverage of selected interventions from sites in Argentina, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S12.
The Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research is one of the largest international networks for testing and generating evidence-based recommendations for improvement of maternal-child health in resource-limited settings. Since 2009, Global Network sites in six low and middle-income countries have collected information on antenatal care practices, which are important as indicators of care and have implications for programs to improve maternal and child health. We sought to: (1) describe the quantity of antenatal care attendance over a four-year period; and (2) explore the quality of coverage for selected preventative, screening, and birth preparedness components.
The Maternal Newborn Health Registry (MNHR) is a prospective, population-based birth and pregnancy outcomes registry in Global Network sites, including: Argentina, Guatemala, India (Belgaum and Nagpur), Kenya, Pakistan, and Zambia. MNHR data from these sites were prospectively collected from January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2013 and analyzed for indicators related to quantity and patterns of ANC and coverage of key elements of recommended focused antenatal care. Descriptive statistics were generated overall by global region (Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and for each individual site.
Overall, 96% of women reported at least one antenatal care visit. Indian sites demonstrated the highest percentage of women who initiated antenatal care during the first trimester. Women from the Latin American and Indian sites reported the highest number of at least 4 visits. Overall, 88% of women received tetanus toxoid. Only about half of all women reported having been screened for syphilis (49%) or anemia (50%). Rates of HIV testing were above 95% in the Argentina, African, and Indian sites. The Pakistan site demonstrated relatively high rates for birth preparation, but for most other preventative and screening interventions, posted lower coverage rates as compared to other Global Network sites.
Results from our large, prospective, population-based observational study contribute important insight into regional and site-specific patterns for antenatal care access and coverage. Our findings indicate a quality and coverage gap in antenatal care services, particularly in regards to syphilis and hemoglobin screening. We have identified site-specific gaps in access to, and delivery of, antenatal care services that can be targeted for improvement in future research and implementation efforts.
Trial registration
Registration at (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464209  PMID: 26063483
Maternal-newborn health; birth registry; antenatal care; Africa; Asia; Latin America; focused antenatal care; quality of care
8.  Rates and determinants of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breast feeding at 42 days postnatal in six low and middle-income countries: A prospective cohort study 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S10.
Early initiation of breastfeeding after birth and exclusive breastfeeding through six months of age confers many health benefits for infants; both are crucial high impact, low-cost interventions. However, determining accurate global rates of these crucial activities has been challenging. We use population-based data to describe: (1) rates of early initiation of breastfeeding (defined as within 1 hour of birth) and of exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum; and (2) factors associated with failure to initiate early breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum.
Prospectively collected data from women and their live-born infants enrolled in the Global Network’s Maternal and Newborn Health Registry between January 1, 2010-December 31, 2013 included women-infant dyads in 106 geographic areas (clusters) at 7 research sites in 6 countries (Kenya, Zambia, India [2 sites], Pakistan, Argentina and Guatemala). Rates and risk factors for failure to initiate early breastfeeding were investigated for the entire cohort and rates and risk factors for failure to maintain exclusive breastfeeding was assessed in a sub-sample studied at 42 days post-partum.
A total of 255,495 live-born women-infant dyads were included in the study. Rates and determinants for the exclusive breastfeeding sub-study at 42 days post-partum were assessed from among a sub-sample of 105,563 subjects. Although there was heterogeneity by site, and early initiation of breastfeeding after delivery was high, the Pakistan site had the lowest rates of early initiation of breastfeeding. The Pakistan site also had the highest rate of lack of exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum. Across all regions, factors associated with failure to initiate early breastfeeding included nulliparity, caesarean section, low birth weight, resuscitation with bag and mask, and failure to place baby on the mother’s chest after delivery. Factors associated with failure to achieve exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days varied across the sites. The only factor significant in all sites was multiple gestation.
In this large, prospective, population-based, observational study, rates of both early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding at 42 days post-partum were high, except in Pakistan. Factors associated with these key breastfeeding indicators should assist with more effective strategies to scale-up these crucial public health interventions.
Trial registration
Registration at the website (ID# NCT01073475).
PMCID: PMC4464210  PMID: 26063291
Early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding; neonatal mortality; global health; newborn
9.  A prospective population-based study of maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes in the setting of prolonged labor, obstructed labor and failure to progress in low- and middle-income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S9.
This population-based study sought to quantify maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries associated with obstructed labor, prolonged labor and failure to progress (OL/PL/FTP).
A prospective, population-based observational study of pregnancy outcomes was performed at seven sites in Argentina, Guatemala, India (2 sites, Belgaum and Nagpur), Kenya, Pakistan and Zambia. Women were enrolled in pregnancy and delivery and 6-week follow-up obtained to evaluate rates of OL/PL/FTP and outcomes resulting from OL/PL/FTP, including: maternal and delivery characteristics, maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality and stillbirth.
Between 2010 and 2013, 266,723 of 267,270 records (99.8%) included data on OL/PL/FTP with an overall rate of 110.4/1000 deliveries that ranged from 41.6 in Zambia to 200.1 in Pakistan. OL/PL/FTP was more common in women aged <20, nulliparous women, more educated women, women with infants >3500g, and women with a BMI >25 (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.3 – 1.5), with the suggestion of OL/PL/FTP being less common in preterm deliveries. Protective characteristics included parity of ≥3, having an infant <1500g, and having a BMI <18. Women with OL/PL/FTP were more likely to die within 42 days (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.4 – 2.4), be infected (RR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5 – 2.2), and have hemorrhage antepartum (RR 2.8, 95% CI 2.1 – 3.7) or postpartum (RR 2.4, 95% CI 1.8 – 3.3). They were also more likely to have a stillbirth (RR 1.6, 95% CI 1.3 – 1.9), a neonatal demise at < 28 days (RR 1.9, 95% CI 1.6 – 2.1), or a neonatal infection (RR 1.2, 95% CI 1.1 – 1.3). As compared to operative vaginal delivery and cesarean section (CS), women experiencing OL/PL/FTP who gave birth vaginally were more likely to become infected, to have an infected neonate, to hemorrhage in the antepartum and postpartum period, and to die, have a stillbirth, or have a neonatal demise. Women with OL/PL/FTP were far more likely to deliver in a facility and be attended by a physician or other skilled provider than women without this diagnosis.
Women with OL/PL/FTP in the communities studied were more likely to be primiparous, younger than age 20, overweight, and of higher education, with an infant with birthweight of >3500g. Women with this diagnosis were more likely to experience a maternal, fetal, or neonatal death, antepartum and postpartum hemorrhage, and maternal and neonatal infection. They were also more likely to deliver in a facility with a skilled provider. CS may decrease the risk of poor outcomes (as in the case of antepartum hemorrhage), but unassisted vaginal delivery exacerbates all of the maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes evaluated in the setting of OL/PL/FTP.
PMCID: PMC4464213  PMID: 26063492
obstructed labor; maternal mortality; maternal morbidity; neonatal mortality; neonatal morbidity; stillbirth; sub-Saharan Africa
10.  Neonatal mortality and coverage of essential newborn interventions 2010 - 2013: a prospective, population-based study from low-middle income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S6.
Approximately 3 million neonatal deaths occur each year worldwide. Simple interventions have been tested and found to be effective in reducing the neonatal mortality. In order to effectively implement public health interventions, it is important to know the rates of neonatal mortality and understand the contributing risk factors. Hence, this prospective, population-based, observational study was carried out to inform these needs.
The Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry was initiated in the seven sites in 2008. Registry administrators (RAs) attempt to identify and enroll all eligible women by 20 weeks gestation and collect basic health data, and outcomes after delivery and at 6 weeks post-partum. All study data were collected, reviewed, and edited by staff at each study site. The study was reviewed and approved by each sites’ ethics review committee.
Overall, the 7-day neonatal mortality rate (NMR) was 20.6 per 1000 live births and the 28-day NMR was 25.7 per 1000 live births. Higher neonatal mortality was associated with maternal age > 35 and <20 years relative to women 20-35 years of age. Preterm births were at increased risk of both early and 28-day neonatal mortality (RR 8.1, 95% CI 7.5-8.8 and 7.5, 95% CI 6.9-8.1) compared to term as were those with low birth weight (<2500g). Neonatal resuscitation rates were 4.8% for hospital deliveries compared to 0.9% for home births. In the hospital, 26.5% of deliveries were by cesarean section with an overall cesarean section rate of 12.5%. Neonatal mortality rates were highest in the Pakistan site and lowest in Argentina.
Using prospectively collected data with high follow up rates (99%), we documented characteristics associated with neonatal mortality. Low birth weight and prematurity are among the strongest predictors of neonatal mortality. Other risk factors for neonatal deaths included male gender, multiple gestation and major congenital anomalies. Breech presentation/transverse lie, and no antenatal care were also significant risk factors for neonatal death. Coverage of interventions varied by setting of delivery, with the overall population rate of most evidence-based interventions low. This study informs about risk factors for neonatal mortality which can serve to design strategies/interventions to reduce risk of neonatal mortality.
Trial registration
The trial is registered at Trial Registration: NCT01073475
PMCID: PMC4464215  PMID: 26063125
neonatal mortality; newborn care; risk factors
11.  Postpartum contraceptive use and unmet need for family planning in five low-income countries 
Reproductive Health  2015;12(Suppl 2):S11.
During the post-partum period, most women wish to delay or prevent future pregnancies. Despite this, the unmet need for family planning up to a year after delivery is higher than at any other time. This study aims to assess fertility intention, contraceptive usage and unmet need for family planning amongst women who are six weeks postpartum, as well as to identify those at greatest risk of having an unmet need for family planning during this period.
Using the NICHD Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research’s multi-site, prospective, ongoing, active surveillance system to track pregnancies and births in 100 rural geographic clusters in 5 countries (India, Pakistan, Zambia, Kenya and Guatemala), we assessed fertility intention and contraceptive usage at day 42 post-partum.
We gathered data on 36,687 women in the post-partum period. Less than 5% of these women wished to have another pregnancy within the year. Despite this, rates of modern contraceptive usage varied widely and unmet need ranged from 25% to 96%. Even amongst users of modern contraceptives, the uptake of the most effective long-acting reversible contraceptives (intrauterine devices) was low. Women of age less than 20 years, parity of two or less, limited education and those who deliver at home were at highest risk for having unmet need.
Six weeks postpartum, almost all women wish to delay or prevent a future pregnancy. Even in sites where early contraceptive adoption is common, there is substantial unmet need for family planning. This is consistently highest amongst women below the age of 20 years. Interventions aimed at increasing the adoption of effective contraceptive methods are urgently needed in the majority of sites in order to reduce unmet need and to improve both maternal and infant outcomes, especially amongst young women.
Study registration (ID# NCT01073475)
PMCID: PMC4464604  PMID: 26063346
Contraception; low-middle income countries; obstetric care; family planning
12.  A Phase I Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Study of the Safety and Immunogenicity of an Adjuvanted HIV-1 Gag-Pol-Nef Fusion Protein and Adenovirus 35 Gag-RT-Int-Nef Vaccine in Healthy HIV-Uninfected African Adults 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125954.
Sequential prime-boost or co-administration of HIV vaccine candidates based on an adjuvanted clade B p24, RT, Nef, p17 fusion protein (F4/AS01) plus a non-replicating adenovirus 35 expressing clade A Gag, RT, Int and Nef (Ad35-GRIN) may lead to a unique immune profile, inducing both strong T-cell and antibody responses.
In a phase 1, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 146 healthy adult volunteers were randomized to one of four regimens: heterologous prime-boost with two doses of F4/AS01E or F4/AS01B followed by Ad35-GRIN; Ad35-GRIN followed by two doses of F4/AS01B; or three co-administrations of Ad35-GRIN and F4/AS01B. T cell and antibody responses were measured.
The vaccines were generally well-tolerated, and did not cause serious adverse events. The response rate, by IFN-γ ELISPOT, was greater when Ad35-GRIN was the priming vaccine and in the co-administration groups. F4/AS01 induced CD4+ T-cells expressing primarily CD40L and IL2 +/- TNF-α, while Ad35-GRIN induced predominantly CD8+ T-cells expressing IFN-γ +/- IL2 or TNF-α. Viral inhibition was induced after Ad35-GRIN vaccination, regardless of the regimen. Strong F4-specific antibody responses were induced. Immune responses persisted at least a year after the last vaccination. The complementary response profiles, characteristic of each vaccine, were both expressed after co-administration.
Co-administration of an adjuvanted protein and an adenovirus vector showed an acceptable safety and reactogenicity profile and resulted in strong, multifunctional and complementary HIV-specific immune responses.
Trial Registration NCT01264445
PMCID: PMC4427332  PMID: 25961283
13.  Testing the Validity and Reliability of the Shame Questionnaire among Sexually Abused Girls in Zambia 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123820.
The aim of the current study is to test the validity and reliability of the Shame Questionnaire among traumatized girls in Lusaka, Zambia.
The Shame Questionnaire was validated through both classical test and item response theory methods. Internal reliability, criterion validity and construct validity were examined among a sample of 325 female children living in Zambia. Sub-analyses were conducted to examine differences in construct validity among girls who reported sexual abuse and girls who did not.
All girls in the sample were sexually abused, but only 61.5% endorsed or reported that sexual abuse had occurred. Internal consistency was very good among the sample with alpha = .87. Criterion validity was demonstrated through a significant difference of mean Shame Questionnaire scores between girls who experienced 0–1 trauma events and more than one traumatic event, with higher mean Shame Questionnaire scores among girls who had more than one traumatic event (p = .004 for 0–1 compared to 2 and 3 events and p = .016 for 0–1 compared to 4+ events). Girls who reported a history of witnessing or experiencing physical abuse had a significantly higher mean Shame Questionnaire score than girls who did not report a history of witnessing or experiencing physical abuse (p<.0001). There was no significant difference in mean Shame Questionnaire score between girls who reported a sexual abuse history and girls who did not. Exploratory factor analysis indicated a two-factor model of the Shame Questionnaire, with an experience of shame dimension and an active outcomes of shame dimension. Item response theory analysis indicated adequate overall item fit. Results also indicate potential differences in construct validity between girls who did and did not endorse sexual abuse.
This study suggests the general utility of the Shame Questionnaire among Zambian girls and demonstrates the need for more psychometric studies in low and middle income countries.
PMCID: PMC4399983  PMID: 25879658
14.  Theory-driven process evaluation of a complementary feeding trial in four countries 
Health Education Research  2014;29(2):297-305.
We conducted a theory-driven process evaluation of a cluster randomized controlled trial comparing two types of complementary feeding (meat versus fortified cereal) on infant growth in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We examined process evaluation indicators for the entire study cohort (N = 1236) using chi-square tests to examine differences between treatment groups. We administered exit interviews to 219 caregivers and 45 intervention staff to explore why caregivers may or may not have performed suggested infant feeding behaviors. Multivariate regression analysis was used to determine the relationship between caregiver scores and infant linear growth velocity. As message recall increased, irrespective of treatment group, linear growth velocity increased when controlling for other factors (P < 0.05), emphasizing the importance of study messages. Our detailed process evaluation revealed few differences between treatment groups, giving us confidence that the main trial’s lack of effect to reverse the progression of stunting cannot be explained by differences between groups or inconsistencies in protocol implementation. These findings add to an emerging body of literature suggesting limited impact on stunting of interventions initiated during the period of complementary feeding in impoverished environments. The early onset and steady progression support the provision of earlier and comprehensive interventions.
PMCID: PMC3959202  PMID: 24399265
15.  A Color-Coded Tape for Uterine Height Measurement: A Tool to Identify Preterm Pregnancies in Low Resource Settings 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(3):e0117134.
Neonatal mortality associated with preterm birth can be reduced with antenatal corticosteroids (ACS), yet <10% of eligible pregnant women in low-middle income countries. The inability to accurately determine gestational age (GA) leads to under-identification of high-risk women who could receive ACS or other interventions. To facilitate better identification in low-resource settings, we developed a color-coded tape for uterine height (UH) measurement and estimated its accuracy identifying preterm pregnancies.
We designed a series of colored-coded tapes with segments corresponding to UH measurements for 20–23.6 weeks, 24.0–35.6 weeks, and >36.0 weeks GA. In phase 1, UH measurements were collected prospectively in the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Pakistan, using distinct tapes to address variation across regions and ethnicities. In phase 2, we tested accuracy in 250 pregnant women with known GA from early ultrasound enrolled at prenatal clinics in Argentina, India, Pakistan and Zambia. Providers masked to the ultrasound GA measured UH. Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis was conducted.
1,029 pregnant women were enrolled. In all countries the tapes were most effective identifying pregnancies between 20.0–35.6 weeks, compared to the other GAs. The ROC areas under the curves and 95% confidence intervals were: Argentina 0.69 (0.63, 0.74); Zambia 0.72 (0.66, 0.78), India 0.84 (0.80, 0.89), and Pakistan 0.83 (0.78, 0.87). The sensitivity and specificity (and 95% confidence intervals) for identifying pregnancies between 20.0–35.6 weeks, respectively, were: Argentina 87% (82%–92%) and 51% (42%–61%); Zambia 91% (86%–95%) and 50% (40%–60%); India 78% (71%–85%) and 89% (83%–94%); Pakistan 63% (55%–70%) and 94% (89%–99%).
We observed moderate-good accuracy identifying pregnancies ≤35.6 weeks gestation, with potential usefulness at the community level in low-middle income countries to facilitate the preterm identification and interventions to reduce preterm neonatal mortality. Further research is needed to validate these findings on a population basis.
PMCID: PMC4379082  PMID: 25822529
16.  Long-term follow-up of study participants from prophylactic HIV vaccine clinical trials in Africa 
Long-term safety is critical for the development and later use of a vaccine to prevent HIV/AIDS. Likewise, the persistence of vaccine-induced antibodies and their impact on HIV testing must be established. IAVI has sponsored several Phase I and IIA HIV vaccine trials enrolling healthy, HIV-seronegative African volunteers. Plasmid DNA and viral vector based vaccines were tested. No vaccine-related serious adverse events were reported. After completion of vaccine trials conducted between 2001–2007, both vaccine and placebo recipients were offered enrolment into an observational long-term follow-up study (LTFU) to monitor potential late health effects and persistence of immune responses. At scheduled 6-monthly clinic visits, a health questionnaire was administered; clinical events were recorded and graded for severity. Blood was drawn for HIV testing and cellular immune assays. 287 volunteers were enrolled; total follow-up after last vaccination was 1463 person years (median: 5.2 years). Ninety-three (93)% of volunteers reported good health at their last LTFU visit. Infectious diseases and injuries accounted for almost 50% of the 175 reported clinical events, of which over 95% were mild or moderate in severity. There were 30 six pregnancies, six incident HIV infections and 14 volunteers reported cases of social harm. Persistence of immune responses was rare. No safety signal was identified. No potentially vaccine-related medical condition, no immune mediated disease, or malignancy was reported. HIV vaccines studied in these trials had a low potential of induction of persisting HIV antibodies.
PMCID: PMC4130282  PMID: 24374365
Africa; HIV vaccine trials; long term follow-up; safety; healthy adult volunteers
17.  Neonatal death in Low-Middle Income Countries: A Global Network Study 
American journal of perinatology  2012;29(8):649-656.
To determine population-based neonatal mortality rates in low and middle income countries and to examine gestational age, birth-weight and timing of death to assess the potentially preventable neonatal deaths.
A prospective observational study was conducted in communities in five low-income countries (Kenya, Zambia, Guatemala, India, and Pakistan) and one mid-income country (Argentina). Over a two-year period, all pregnant women in the study communities were enrolled by trained study staff and their infants followed to 28 days of age.
Between October 2009 and March 2011, 153,728 babies were delivered and followed through day 28. Neonatal death rates ranged from 41 per 1000 births in Pakistan to 8 per 1000 in Argentina. 54% of the neonatal deaths were >37 weeks and 46% weighed 2500 grams or more. Half the deaths occurred within 24 hours of delivery.
In our population-based low and middle income country registries, the majority of neonatal deaths occurred in babies >37 weeks gestation and almost half weighed at least 2500 grams. Most deaths occurred shortly after birth. With access to better medical care and hospitalization, especially in the intrapartum and early neonatal period, many of these neonatal deaths might be prevented.
PMCID: PMC4337792  PMID: 22644832
Neonatal mortality; low-income countries; preterm birth
18.  Stigma and psychiatric morbidity among mothers of children with epilepsy in Zambia 
International Health  2013;5(4):288-294.
Epilepsy-associated stigma contributes substantially to the social, medical, and economic burden of disease for people with epilepsy (PWE), but little is known about its impact on caregivers of PWE.
To better understand stigma experienced by caregivers of PWE, factors that influence caregiver stigma, and the effect of stigma on a caregiver's psychologic well being, we interviewed 100 caregivers of children with epilepsy in Zambia. Questions assessed maternal knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to epilepsy, maternal stigma, mother's proxy report of child stigma, and maternal psychiatric morbidity.
Of 100 mothers, 39 (39%) indicated that their child was stigmatized because of his or her epilepsy. Maternal proxy report of child stigma was highly correlated with maternal stigma (OR: 5.4, p=0.04), seizure frequency (p=0.03) and seizure severity (p=0.01). One in five of 100 mothers (20%) reported feeling stigmatized because of their child's epilepsy. Higher maternal stigma was associated with lower familial and community support (ORs: 65.2 and 34.7, respectively; both p<0.0001) as well as higher psychiatric morbidity (OR: 1.2; p=0.002). Formal education and epilepsy knowledge were associated with decreased maternal stigma (ORs: 0.8 and 0.7, respectively; both p<0.001).
One in five mothers of PWE feel stigmatized because of their child's epilepsy. As maternal stigma is associated with psychiatric morbidity, educating caregivers about epilepsy and screening for anxiety and depression are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3850361  PMID: 24214528
Affiliate stigma; Africa; Caregiver; Depression; Education; Felt stigma
19.  Dose of early intervention treatment during children’s first 36 months of life is associated with developmental outcomes: an observational cohort study in three low/low-middle income countries 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:281.
The positive effects of early developmental intervention (EDI) on early child development have been reported in numerous controlled trials in a variety of countries. An important aspect to determining the efficacy of EDI is the degree to which dosage is linked to outcomes. However, few studies of EDI have conducted such analyses. This observational cohort study examined the association between treatment dose and children’s development when EDI was implemented in three low and low-middle income countries as well as demographic and child health factors associated with treatment dose.
Infants (78 males, 67 females) born in rural communities in India, Pakistan, and Zambia received a parent-implemented EDI delivered through biweekly home visits by trainers during the first 36 months of life. Outcome was measured at age 36 months with the Mental (MDI) and Psychomotor (PDI) Development Indices of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II. Treatment dose was measured by number of home visits completed and parent-reported implementation of assigned developmental stimulation activities between visits. Sociodemographic, prenatal, perinatal, and child health variables were measures as correlates.
Average home visits dose exceeded 91% and mothers engaged the children in activities on average 62.5% of days. Higher home visits dose was significantly associated with higher MDI (mean for dose quintiles 1–2 combined = 97.8, quintiles 3–5 combined = 103.4, p = 0.0017). Higher treatment dose was also generally associated with greater mean PDI, but the relationships were non-linear. Location, sociodemographic, and child health variables were associated with treatment dose.
Receiving a higher dose of EDI during the first 36 months of life is generally associated with better developmental outcomes. The higher benefit appears when receiving ≥91% of biweekly home visits and program activities on ≥67% of days over 3 years. It is important to ensure that EDI is implemented with a sufficiently high dose to achieve desired effect. To this end groups at risk for receiving lower dose can be identified and may require special attention to ensure adequate effect.
PMCID: PMC4288653  PMID: 25344731
Treatment dose; Early developmental intervention; Neurodevelopmental disability; Birth asphyxia; Developing countries
21.  Contraceptive discontinuation and switching among couples receiving integrated HIV and family planning services in Lusaka, Zambia 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(0 1):S93-103.
To describe predictors of contraceptive method discontinuation and switching behaviors among HIV positive couples receiving couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing services in Lusaka, Zambia.
Couples were randomized in a factorial design to two family planning educational intervention videos, received comprehensive family planning services, and were assessed every 3-months for contraceptive initiation, discontinuation and switching.
We modeled factors associated with contraceptive method upgrading and downgrading via multivariate Andersen-Gill models.
Most women continued the initial method selected after randomization. The highest rates of discontinuation/switching were observed for injectable contraceptive and intrauterine device users. Time to discontinuing the more effective contraceptive methods or downgrading to oral contraceptives or condoms was associated with the women's younger age, desire for more children within the next year, heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding between periods, and cystitis/dysuria. Health concerns among women about contraceptive implants and male partners not wanting more children were associated with upgrading from oral contraceptives or condoms. HIV status of the woman or the couple was not predictive of switching or stopping.
We found complicated patterns of contraceptive use. The predictors of contraception switching indicate that interventions targeted to younger couples that address common contraception-related misconceptions could improve effective family planning utilization. We recommend these findings be used to increase the uptake and continuation of contraception, especially long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods, and that fertility-goal based, LARC-focused family planning be offered as an integral part of HIV prevention services.
PMCID: PMC4070372  PMID: 24088689
Contraceptive discontinuation; couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing; family planning; long-acting reversible contraception; Zambia
22.  Randomized Trial of Plastic Bags to Prevent Term Neonatal Hypothermia in a Resource-Poor Setting 
Pediatrics  2013;132(3):e656-e661.
Term infants in resource-poor settings frequently develop hypothermia during the first hours after birth. Plastic bags or wraps are a low-cost intervention for the prevention of hypothermia in preterm and low birth weight infants that may also be effective in term infants. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that placement of term neonates in plastic bags at birth reduces hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in a resource-poor hospital.
This parallel-group randomized controlled trial was conducted at University Teaching Hospital, the tertiary referral center in Zambia. Inborn neonates with both a gestational age ≥37 weeks and a birth weight ≥2500 g were randomized 1:1 to either a standard thermoregulation protocol or to a standard thermoregulation protocol with placement of the torso and lower extremities inside a plastic bag within 10 minutes after birth. The primary outcome was hypothermia (<36.5°C axillary temperature) at 1 hour after birth.
Neonates randomized to plastic bag (n = 135) or to standard thermoregulation care (n = 136) had similar baseline characteristics (birth weight, gestational age, gender, and baseline temperature). Neonates in the plastic bag group had a lower rate of hypothermia (60% vs 73%, risk ratio 0.76, confidence interval 0.60–0.96, P = .026) and a higher axillary temperature (36.4 ± 0.5°C vs 36.2 ± 0.7°C, P < .001) at 1 hour after birth compared with infants receiving standard care.
Placement in a plastic bag at birth reduced the incidence of hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in term neonates born in a resource-poor setting, but most neonates remained hypothermic.
PMCID: PMC3876758  PMID: 23979082
infant, term; infant, newborn; infant, hypothermia/prevention and control; plastic bag; bedding and linens; body temperature, regulation; polyethylenes; delivery, obstetrics
23.  Plastic Bags for Prevention of Hypothermia in Preterm and Low Birth Weight Infants 
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):e128-e134.
Hypothermia contributes to neonatal mortality and morbidity, especially in preterm and low birth weight infants in developing countries. Plastic bags covering the trunk and extremities of very low birth weight infants reduces hypothermia. This technique has not been studied in larger infants or in many resource-limited settings. The objective was to determine if placing preterm and low birth weight infants inside a plastic bag at birth maintains normothermia.
Infants at 26 to 36 weeks’ gestational age and/or with a birth weight of 1000 to 2500 g born at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia, were randomized by using a 1:1 allocation and parallel design to standard thermoregulation (blanket or radiant warmer) care or to standard thermoregulation care plus placement inside a plastic bag at birth. The primary outcome measure was axillary temperature in the World Health Organization–defined normal range (36.5–37.5°C) at 1 hour after birth.
A total of 104 infants were randomized. At 1 hour after birth, infants randomized to plastic bag (n = 49) were more likely to have a temperature in the normal range as compared with infants in the standard thermoregulation care group (n = 55; 59.2% vs 32.7%; relative risk 1.81; 95% confidence interval 1.16–2.81; P = .007). The temperature at 1 hour after birth in the infants randomized to plastic bag was 36.5 ± 0.5°C compared with 36.1 ± 0.6°C in standard care infants (P < .001). Hyperthermia (>38.0°C) did not occur in any infant.
Placement of preterm/low birth weight infants inside a plastic bag at birth compared with standard thermoregulation care reduced hypothermia without resulting in hyperthermia, and is a low-cost, low-technology tool for resource-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC3691528  PMID: 23733796
hypothermia/prevention and control; infant newborn; infant premature; diseases/prevention and control; perinatal care/methods
24.  Syphilis Treatment Response Among HIV-Discordant Couples in Zambia and Rwanda 
In 2 large human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–discordant couple cohorts in Africa, time to treatment response after penicillin therapy for a positive rapid plasma reagin test result was similar irrespective of HIV status. Despite effective therapy, serofast state and syphilis reinfection were common.
Background. Syphilis continues to be a common sexually transmitted infection, despite the availability of inexpensive and effective treatment. Infection in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–discordant couples is important because syphilis increases the risk of HIV acquisition. Current US treatment guidelines recommend 1 dose of benzathine penicillin for early syphilis, irrespective of HIV status, but data from coinfected patients are limited.
Methods. Retrospective analysis of 1321 individuals in 2 African HIV-discordant couple cohorts was performed. Cox proportional hazards analysis and multivariable modeling were used to assess predictors of serologic response to treatment at 180 days and 400 days. Modeling was performed for all episodes of positive rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test results and on a subset with higher RPR titers (≥1:4).
Results. A total of 1810 episodes of syphilis among 1321 individuals were treated with penicillin between 2002 and 2008. Although a positive RPR was more common in the HIV-infected partners, HIV infection did not impact the likelihood of serologic response to therapy (odds ratio [OR], 1.001; P = .995). By 400 days, 67% had responded to therapy, 27% were serofast, and 6.5% had documented reinfection. Prevalent infections were more likely to remain serofast than incident infections (33% vs 20% at 400 days).
Conclusions. In 2 HIV-serodiscordant couple cohorts in Africa, incident syphilis had a very good likelihood of response to penicillin therapy, irrespective of HIV infection. This supports current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention treatment guidelines. A high proportion of prevalent RPR-positive infections remain serofast despite treatment.
PMCID: PMC3658364  PMID: 23487377
HIV/AIDS; syphilis; discordant couples; Zambia; Rwanda
25.  Impact of long-term contraceptive promotion on incident pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial among HIV positive couples in Lusaka, Zambia 
To evaluate the impact of family planning promotion on incident pregnancy in a combined effort to address Prongs 1 and 2 of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.
We conducted a factorial randomized controlled trial of two video-based interventions.
“Methods-focused” and “Motivational” messages promoted long-term contraceptive use among 1060 couples with HIV in Lusaka, Zambia.
Among couples not using contraception prior to randomization (N=782), the video interventions had no impact on incident pregnancy. Among baseline contraceptive users, viewing the “Methods” video which focused on the IUD and contraceptive implant was associated with a significantly lower pregnancy incidence (HR=0.38; 95%CI:0.19–0.75) relative to those viewing control and/or motivational videos. The effect was strongest in concordant positive couples (HR=0.22; 95%CI:0.08–0.58) and couples with HIV+ women (HR=0.23; 95%CI:0.09–0.55).
The “Methods video” intervention was previously shown to increase uptake of longer-acting contraception and to prompt a shift from daily oral contraceptives to quarterly injectables and long-acting methods such as the IUD and implant. Follow-up confirms sustained intervention impact on pregnancy incidence among baseline contraceptive users, in particular couples with HIV positive women. Further work is needed to identify effective interventions to promote long-acting contraception among couples who have not yet adopted modern methods.
PMCID: PMC3625483  PMID: 23202814
Couples’ voluntary HIV counseling and testing; family planning; long-term contraception; randomized controlled trial; Zambia

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