Background. Evidence on the association between female-to-male human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission risk and hormonal contraception is sparse and conflicting.
Methods. Heterosexual HIV-discordant couples from Lusaka, Zambia, were followed longitudinally at 3 month-intervals from 1994 to 2012. The impact of hormonal contraception on time to HIV transmission from HIV-positive women to their HIV-negative male partners (M−F+) was evaluated.
Results. Among 1601 M−F+ couples, 171 genetically linked HIV transmissions occurred in men over 3216 couple-years (5.3 transmissions/100 couple-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.5–6.2). In multivariable Cox models, neither injectable (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 0.6; 95% CI, .4–1.2), oral contraceptive pill (aHR, 0.8; 95% CI, .3–2.1), nor implant (aHR, 0.8; 95% CI, .5–1.4) use was associated with HIV transmission, relative to nonhormonal methods, after controlling for the man's age at baseline and time-varying measures of pregnancy, self-reported unprotected sex with the study partner, sperm present on a vaginal swab wet mount, genital inflammation of either partner, genital ulceration of the man, and first follow-up interval. Sensitivity analyses, including marginal structural modeling and controlling for viral load and fertility intentions available in a subset of couples, led to similar conclusions.
Conclusions. Our findings suggest null associations between hormonal contraception and risk of female-to-male HIV transmission. We support efforts to increase the contraceptive method mix for all women, regardless of HIV serostatus, along with reinforced condom counseling for HIV-serodiscordant couples.
HIV discordant couples; HIV risk; hormonal contraception; longitudinal cohort; Zambia
Antenatal corticosteroids are commonly used to reduce neonatal mortality, but most research to date has been in high-resource settings and few studies have evaluated its impact on stillbirth. In the Antenatal Corticosteroids Trial (ACT), a multi-country trial to assess impact of a multi-faceted intervention including antenatal corticosteroids to reduce neonatal mortality associated with preterm birth, we found an overall increase in 28-day neonatal mortality and stillbirth associated with the intervention.
The ACT was a cluster-randomized trial conducted in 102 clusters across 7 research sites in 6 countries (India [2 sites], Pakistan, Zambia, Kenya, Guatemala and Argentina), comparing an intervention to train birth attendants at all levels of the health system to identify women at risk of preterm birth, administer corticosteroids and refer women at risk. Because of inadequate gestational age dating, the <5th percentile birth weight was used as a proxy for preterm birth. A pre-specified secondary outcome of the trial was stillbirth.
After adjusting for the pre-trial imbalance in stillbirth rates, the ACT intervention was associated with a non-significant increased risk of stillbirth (aRR 1.08, 95 % CI, 0.99–1.17, p–0.073). Additionally, the stillbirth rate was higher in the term births (1.20 95 % CI 1.06–1.37, 0.004) and among those with signs of maceration (RR 1.18 (1.04–1.35), p = 0.013) in the intervention vs. control clusters. Differences in obstetric care favored the control clusters and maternal infection was likely more common in the intervention clusters.
In this pragmatic trial, limited data were available to identify the causes of the increase in stillbirths in the intervention clusters. A higher rate of stillbirth in the intervention clusters prior to the trial, differences in obstetric care and an increase in maternal infection are potential explanations for the observed increase in stillbirths in the intervention clusters during the trial.
To determine the impact of hormonal contraceptive methods on risk of HIV acquisition among HIV-negative women cohabiting with HIV-positive male partners.
From 1994–2012, HIV discordant couples recruited from a couples’ voluntary HIV counseling and testing center in Lusaka, Zambia were followed longitudinally. HIV-negative partners were tested quarterly. This analysis is restricted to couples in which the man was HIV-positive and the woman was HIV-negative at enrollment and the man was not on antiretroviral treatment. Multivariate Cox models evaluated associations between time-varying contraceptive methods and HIV acquisition among women. Sensitivity analyses explored exposure misclassification and time-varying confounder mediation.
Among 1393 couples, 252 incident infections occurred in women over 2842 couple-years (8.9 infections per 100 couple-years; 95% CI, 7.8–10.0). Multivariate Cox models indicated that neither injectable [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR)=1.2; 95% CI, 0.8–1.7], oral contraceptive pill (OCP, aHR=1.3; 95% CI, 0.9–1.8), or implant (aHR=1.1; 95% CI, 0.5–2.2) use was significantly associated with HIV acquisition relative to non-hormonal contraception controlling for woman's age, literacy and time-varying measures of genital ulceration/inflammation. This remained true when only looking at the subset of infections acquired from the spouse (82% of infections) and additionally controlling for baseline HIV viral load of the male partner, pregnancy status, and time-varying measures of sperm on a vaginal swab wet prep and self-reported unprotected sex. OCP and injectable users reported more unprotected sex (p<.001), and OCP users were more likely to have sperm on vaginal swab (p=.1) than nonhormonal method users.
We found no association between hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition risk in women. Condom use and reinforced condom counseling should always be recommended for HIV discordant couples. HIV testing of sex partners together is critical to establish HIV risk, ascertain couple fertility intentions and counsel appropriately.
These findings add to a controversial literature and uniquely address several common design and analytic challenges faced by previous studies. After controlling for confounders, we found no association between hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition risk in women. We support promoting condoms for HIV prevention and increasing the contraceptive method mix to decrease unintended pregnancy.
Discordant couples; HIV risk; Hormonal contraception; Longitudinal cohort; Women; Zambia
Antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) for women at high risk of preterm birth is an effective intervention to reduce neonatal mortality among preterm babies delivered in hospital settings, but has not been widely used in low-middle resource settings. We sought to assess the rates of ACS use at all levels of health care in low and middle income countries (LMIC).
We assessed rates of ACS in 7 sites in 6 LMIC participating in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Global Network for Women and Children’s Health Research Antenatal Corticosteroids Trial (ACT), a cluster-randomized trial to assess the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of a multifaceted intervention designed to increase the use of ACS. We conducted this analysis using data from the control clusters, which did not receive any components of the intervention and intended to follow usual care. We included women who delivered an infant with a birth weight <5th percentile, a proxy for preterm birth, and were enrolled in the Maternal Newborn Health (MNH) Registry between October 2011 and March 2014 in all clusters. A survey of the site investigators regarding existing policies on ACS in health facilities and for health workers in the community was part of pre-trial activities.
Overall, of 51,523 women delivered in control clusters across all sites, the percentage of <5th percentile babies ranged from 3.5 % in Kenya to 10.7 % in Pakistan. There was variation among the sites in the use of ACS at all hospitals and among those hospitals having cesarean section and neonatal care capabilities (bag and mask and oxygen or mechanical ventilation). Rates of ACS use for <5th percentile babies in all hospitals ranged from 3.8 % in the Kenya sites to 44.5 % in the Argentina site, and in hospitals with cesarean section and neonatal care capabilities from 0 % in Zambia to 43.5 % in Argentina. ACS were rarely used in clinic or home deliveries at any site. Guidelines for ACS use at all levels of the health system were available for most of the sites.
Our study reports an overall low utilization of ACS among mothers of <5th percentile infants in hospital and clinic deliveries in LMIC.
Possible severe bacterial infections (pSBI) continue to be a leading cause of global neonatal mortality annually. With the recent publications of simplified antibiotic regimens for treatment of pSBI where referral is not possible, it is important to know how and where to target these regimens, but data on the incidence and outcomes of pSBI are limited.
We used data prospectively collected at 7 rural community-based sites in 6 low and middle income countries participating in the NICHD Global Network’s Maternal and Newborn Health Registry, between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2013. Participants included pregnant women and their live born neonates followed for 6 weeks after delivery and assessed for maternal and infant outcomes.
In a cohort of 248,539 infants born alive between 2010 and 2013, 32,088 (13 %) neonates met symptomatic criteria for pSBI. The incidence of pSBI during the first 6 weeks of life varied 10 fold from 3 % (Zambia) to 36 % (Pakistan), and overall case fatality rates varied 8 fold from 5 % (Kenya) to 42 % (Zambia). Significant variations in incidence of pSBI during the study period, with proportions decreasing in 3 sites (Argentina, Kenya and Nagpur, India), remaining stable in 3 sites (Zambia, Guatemala, Belgaum, India) and increasing in 1 site (Pakistan), cannot be explained solely by changing rates of facility deliveries. Case fatality rates did not vary over time.
In a prospective population based registry with trained data collectors, there were wide variations in the incidence and case fatality of pSBI in rural communities and in trends over time. Regardless of these variations, the burden of pSBI is still high and strategies to implement timely diagnosis and treatment are still urgently needed to reduce neonatal mortality.
The study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01073475).
Neonatal sepsis; Low middle income countries; Possible severe bacterial infections; Incidence of neonatal sepsis; Case fatality rates from neonatal sepsis; Global health
The Antenatal Corticosteroid Trial assessed the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of a multifaceted intervention to increase the use of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) in mothers at risk of preterm birth at all levels of care in low and middle-income countries. The intervention effectively increased the use of ACS but was associated with an overall increase in neonatal deaths. We aimed to explore plausible pathways through which this intervention increased neonatal mortality.
We conducted a series of secondary analyses to assess whether ACS or other components of the multifaceted intervention that might have affected the quality of care contributed to the increased mortality observed: 1) we compared the proportion of neonatal deaths receiving ACS between the intervention and control groups; 2) we compared the antenatal and delivery care process in all births between groups; 3) we compared the rates of possible severe bacterial infection between groups; and 4) we compared the frequency of factors related to ACS administration or maternal high risk conditions at administration between the babies who died and those who survived 28 days among all births in the intervention group identified as high risk for preterm birth and received ACS.
The ACS exposure among the infants who died up to 28 days was 29 % in the intervention group compared to 6 % in controls. No substantial differences were observed in antenatal and delivery care process between groups. The risk of pSBI plus neonatal death was significantly increased in intervention clusters compared to controls (2.4 % vs. 2.0 %, adjusted RR 1.17, 95 % CI 1.04–1.30, p = 0.008], primarily for infants with birth weight at or above the 25th percentile. Regarding factors related to ACS administration, term infants who died were more likely to have mothers who received ACS within 7 days of delivery compared to those who survived 28 days (26.5 % vs 17.9 %, p = 0.014), and their mothers were more likely to have been identified as high risk for hypertension and less likely for signs of preterm labor.
These results suggest that ACS more than other components of the intervention may have contributed to the overall increased neonatal mortality. ACS may have also been involved in the observed increased risk of neonatal infection and death. Further trials are urgently needed to clarify the effectiveness and safety of ACS on neonatal health in low resource settings.
The Antenatal Corticosteroid Trial (ACT) assessed the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of a multifaceted intervention to increase the use of antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) in mothers at risk of preterm birth at all levels of care in low and middle-income countries. The intervention effectively increased the use of ACS but had no overall impact on neonatal mortality in the targeted <5th percentile birth weight infants. Being in the intervention clusters was also associated with an overall increase in neonatal deaths. We sought to explore plausible pathways through which this intervention increased neonatal mortality.
We conducted secondary analyses to assess site differences in outcome and potential explanations for the differences in outcomes if found. By site, and in the intervention and control clusters, we evaluated characteristics of the mothers and care systems, the proportion of the <5th percentile infants and the overall population that received ACS, the rates of possible severe bacterial infection (pSBI), determined from clinical signs, and neonatal mortality rates.
There were substantial differences between the sites in both participant and health system characteristics, with Guatemala and Argentina generally having the highest levels of care. In some sites there were substantial differences in the health system characteristics between the intervention and control clusters. The increase in ACS in the intervention clusters was similar among the sites. While overall, there was no difference in neonatal mortality among <5th percentile births between the intervention and control clusters, Guatemala and Pakistan both had significant reductions in neonatal mortality in the <5th percentile infants in the intervention clusters. The improvement in neonatal mortality in the Guatemalan site in the <5th percentile infants was associated with a higher level of care at the site and an improvement in care in the intervention clusters. There was a significant increase overall in neonatal mortality in the intervention clusters compared to the control. Across sites, this increase in neonatal mortality was statistically significant and most apparent in the African sites. This increase in neonatal mortality was accompanied by a significant increase in pSBI in the African sites.
The improvement in neonatal mortality in the Guatemalan site in the <5th percentile infants was associated with a higher level of care and an improvement in care in the intervention clusters. The increase in neonatal mortality in the intervention clusters across all sites was largely driven by the poorer outcomes in the African sites, which also had an increase in pSBI in the intervention clusters. We emphasize that these results come from secondary analyses. Additional prospective studies are needed to assess the effectiveness and safety of ACS on neonatal health in low resource settings.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01084096)
Previous research has indicated positive effects of early developmental intervention (EDI) on the development of children in developing countries. Few studies, however, have examined longitudinally when differential treatment effects may be observed and whether differential outcomes are associated with exposure to different risk factors and country of implementation. Also, birth asphyxia as a risk condition has not been well studied. To address these limitations, we conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the hypothesis that there will be differential developmental trajectories favoring those who receive EDI versus a health education intervention in children in rural areas of India, Pakistan, and Zambia.
Children with and without birth asphyxia were randomized to EDI or control intervention, which was implemented by parents who received training in biweekly home visits initiated before child age 1 month and continuing until 36 months. Development was assessed in 376 children at ages 12, 24, and 36 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development and Ages & Stages Questionnaire administered by evaluators blind to intervention assignment and risk condition.
Longitudinal mixed model analysis indicated that EDI resulted in better development over 36 months in cognitive abilities, regardless of risk condition, maternal resources, child gender, or country. Psychomotor development and parent-reported general development showed similar trends as for cognitive abilities, but were not statistically different between intervention conditions. Developmental differences were observed first at 36 months of age.
Early developmental intervention has promise for improving development in children across developing countries when exposed to various risk conditions. EDI should be one prominent approach used to begin to address long-term outcomes and intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Early developmental intervention; low resource countries; birth trauma; at risk
The purpose of the current study was to adapt the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II for use as a screening measure that could be used by health care professionals in Low Middle Income (LMI) countries with 12 month old infants to determine if they needed further assessment and early intervention.
The adaptations were made as part of a larger study of children participating in a home-based early intervention program in India, Pakistan, and Zambia. Using Item Response Theory, a brief 12 months screener, with excellent sensitivity and specificity was identified.
The proposed 12 month screener contains 7 mental/cognitive items and 5 motor items. Children who cannot perform more than 3 items on the mental scale (sensitivity 79%, specificity 85%) and/or 3 items on the motor scale (sensitivity 96%, specificity 95%) should be referred for further assessment.
This screener can reliably be used to determine if a child needs further developmental assessment.
Infant/Toddler Assessment; Culture; International Testing
Some studies suggest that hormonal contraception, pregnancy, and/or breastfeeding may influence rates of HIV disease progression.
From 1994 to 2012, HIV discordant couples recruited at couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing centers in Lusaka were followed 3-monthly. Multivariate survival analyses explored associations between time-varying contraception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding and 2 outcomes among HIV-positive women: (1) time to death and (2) time to antiretroviral treatment (ART) initiation.
Among 1656 female seropositive, male seronegative couples followed for 3359 person-years (PY), 224 women died [6.7/100 PY; 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.8 to 7.6]. After 2003, 290 women initiated ART (14.5/100 PY; 95% CI: 12.9 to 16.2). In a multivariate model of time to death, hormonal implant [adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 0.30; 95% CI: 0.10 to 0.98] and injectable (aHR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.36 to 0.97) were significantly protective relative to nonhormonal method use, whereas oral contraceptive pill (OCP) use was not (aHR = 1.08; 95% CI: 0.74 to 1.57) controlling for baseline HIV disease stage, time-varying pregnancy, time-varying breastfeeding, and year of enrollment. In a multivariate model of time-to-ART initiation, implant was significantly protective (aHR = 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31 to 0.95), whereas OCP (aHR = 0.70; 95% CI: 0.44 to 1.10) and injectable (aHR = 0.85; 95% CI: 0.55 to 1.32) were not relative to nonhormonal method use controlling for variables above, woman's age, and literacy. Pregnancy was not significantly associated with death (aHR = 1.07; 95% CI: 0.68 to 1.66) or ART initiation (aHR = 1.24; 95% CI: 0.83 to 1.86), whereas breastfeeding was protective for death (aHR = 0.34; 95% CI: 0.19 to 0.62) and ART initiation (aHR = 0.49; 95% CI: 0.29 to 0.85).
Hormonal implants and injectables significantly predicted lower mortality; implants were protective for ART initiation. OCPs and pregnancy were not associated with death or ART initiation, whereas breastfeeding was protective for both. Findings from this 18-year cohort study suggest that (1) HIV-positive women desiring pregnancy can be counseled to do so and breastfeed and (2) all effective contraceptive methods, including injectables and implants, should be promoted to prevent unintended pregnancy.
breastfeeding; HIV disease progression; hormonal contraception; longitudinal cohort; pregnancy; Zambia
Antenatal corticosteroids for pregnant women at risk of preterm birth
are among the most effective hospital-based interventions to reduce neonatal
mortality. We aimed to assess the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of
a multifaceted intervention designed to increase the use of antenatal
corticosteroids at all levels of health care in low-income and middle-income
In this 18-month, cluster-randomised trial, we randomly assigned
(1:1) rural and semi-urban clusters within six countries (Argentina,
Guatemala, India, Kenya, Pakistan, and Zambia) to standard care or a
multifaceted intervention including components to improve identification of
women at risk of preterm birth and to facilitate appropriate use of
antenatal corticosteroids. The primary outcome was 28-day neonatal mortality
among infants less than the 5th percentile for birthweight (a proxy for
preterm birth) across the clusters. Use of antenatal corticosteroids and
suspected maternal infection were additional main outcomes. This trial is
registered with ClinicalTrials.gov,
The ACT trial took place between October, 2011, and March, 2014
(start dates varied by site). 51 intervention clusters with 47 394
livebirths (2520 [5%] less than 5th percentile for
birthweight) and 50 control clusters with 50 743 livebirths (2258
[4%] less than 5th percentile) completed follow-up.
1052 (45%) of 2327 women in intervention clusters who delivered
less-than-5th-percentile infants received antenatal corticosteroids,
compared with 215 (10%) of 2062 in control clusters
(p<0·0001). Among the less-than-5th-percentile infants,
28-day neonatal mortality was 225 per 1000 livebirths for the intervention
group and 232 per 1000 livebirths for the control group (relative risk
[RR] 0·96, 95% CI
0·87–1·06, p=0·65) and suspected
maternal infection was reported in 236 (10%) of 2361 women in the
intervention group and 133 (6%) of 2094 in the control group (odds
ratio [OR] 1·67, 1·33–2·09,
p<0·0001). Among the whole population, 28-day neonatal
mortality was 27·4 per 1000 livebirths for the intervention group
and 23·9 per 1000 livebirths for the control group (RR 1·12,
1·02–1·22, p=0·0127) and suspected
maternal infection was reported in 1207 (3%) of 48 219 women in the
intervention group and 867 (2%) of 51 523 in the control group (OR
Despite increased use of antenatal corticosteroids in low-birthweight
infants in the intervention groups, neonatal mortality did not decrease in
this group, and increased in the population overall. For every 1000 women
exposed to this strategy, an excess of 3·5 neonatal deaths occurred,
and the risk of maternal infection seems to have been increased.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human
Consequences of exposure to household air pollution (HAP) from biomass fuels used for cooking on neonatal deaths and stillbirths is poorly understood. In a large multi-country observational study, we examined whether exposure to HAP was associated with perinatal mortality (stillbirths from gestation week 20 and deaths through day 7 of life) as well as when the deaths occurred (macerated, non-macerated stillbirths, very early neonatal mortality (day 0–2) and later neonatal mortality (day 3–28).
Questions addressing household fuel use were asked at pregnancy, delivery, and neonatal follow-up visits in a prospective cohort study of pregnant women in rural communities in five low and lower middle income countries participating in the Global Network for Women and Children’s Health’s Maternal and Newborn Health Registry. The study was conducted between May 2011 and October 2012. Polluting fuels included kerosene, charcoal, coal, wood, straw, crop waste and dung. Clean fuels included electricity, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas and biogas.
We studied the outcomes of 65,912 singleton pregnancies, 18 % from households using clean fuels (59 % LPG) and 82 % from households using polluting fuels (86 % wood). Compared to households cooking with clean fuels, there was an increased risk of perinatal mortality among households using polluting fuels (adjusted relative risk (aRR) 1.44, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.30-1.61). Exposure to HAP increased the risk of having a macerated stillbirth (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.66, 95%CI 1.23-2.25), non-macerated stillbirth (aOR 1.43, 95 % CI 1.15-1.85) and very early neonatal mortality (aOR 1.82, 95 % CI 1.47-2.22).
Perinatal mortality was associated with exposure to HAP from week 20 of pregnancy through at least day 2 of life. Since pregnancy losses before labor and delivery are difficult to track, the effect of exposure to polluting fuels on global perinatal mortality may have previously been underestimated.
Perinatal; Neonatal; Mortality; Cooking fuels; Household air pollution
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.
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.
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.
Birth asphyxia; resuscitation; low resource countries; developmental outcomes; neurodevelopmental disability
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
data monitoring; data quality; maternal health; newborn health; perinatal registry; metrics; low-income countries
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.
Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Stillbirth; low-middle income countries; obstetric care
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
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.
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.
The study is registered at clinicaltrials.gov [NCT01073475].
Pakistan; maternal mortality; stillbirth; neonatal mortality
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.
Registration at Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Maternal-newborn health; birth registry; antenatal care; Africa; Asia; Latin America; focused antenatal care; quality of care
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.
Registration at the Clinicaltrials.gov website (ID# NCT01073475).
Early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding; neonatal mortality; global health; newborn
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.
obstructed labor; maternal mortality; maternal morbidity; neonatal mortality; neonatal morbidity; stillbirth; sub-Saharan Africa
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.
The trial is registered at clinicaltrials.gov. ClinicalTrial.gov Trial Registration: NCT01073475
neonatal mortality; newborn care; risk factors
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.
Clinicaltrials.gov (ID# NCT01073475)
Contraception; low-middle income countries; obstetric care; family planning
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.
Determining cause of death is needed to develop strategies to reduce maternal death, stillbirth, and newborn death, especially for low-resource settings where 98% of deaths occur. Most existing classification systems are designed for high income settings where extensive testing is available. Verbal autopsy or audits, developed as an alternative, are time-intensive and not generally feasible for population-based evaluation. Furthermore, because most classification is user-dependent, reliability of classification varies over time and across settings. Thus, we sought to develop classification systems for maternal, fetal and newborn mortality based on minimal data to produce reliable cause-of-death estimates for low-resource settings.
In six low-resource countries (India, Pakistan, Guatemala, DRC, Zambia and Kenya), we evaluated data which are collected routinely at antenatal care and delivery and could be obtained with interview, observation, or basic equipment from the mother, lay-health provider or family to inform causes of death. Using these basic data collected in a standard way, we then developed an algorithm to assign cause of death that could be computer-programmed. Causes of death for maternal (trauma, abortion, hemorrhage, infection and hypertensive disease of pregnancy), stillbirth (birth trauma, congenital anomaly, infection, asphyxia, complications of preterm birth) and neonatal death (congenital anomaly, infection, asphyxia, complications of preterm birth) are based on existing cause of death classifications, and compatible with the World Health Organization International Classification of Disease system.
Our system to assign cause of maternal, fetal and neonatal death uses basic data from family or lay-health providers to assign cause of death by an algorithm to eliminate a source of inconsistency and bias. The major strengths are consistency, transparency, and comparability across time or regions with minimal burden on the healthcare system. This system will be an important contribution to determining cause of death in low-resource settings.
Cause of death classification; Maternal mortality; Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Low-income Countries