To develop a prospective perinatal registry that characterizes all deliveries, differentiates between stillbirths and early neonatal deaths (ENDs), and determines the ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths in the northwest Democratic Republic of Congo.
Birth outcomes were obtained from 4 rural health districts.
A total of 8230 women consented, END rate was 32 deaths per 1000 live births, and stillbirth rate was 33 deaths per 1000 deliveries. The majority (75%) of ENDs and stillbirths occurred in neonates weighing 1500 g or more. Odds of stillbirth and END increased in mothers who were single or who did not receive prenatal care, and among premature, low birth weight, or male infants. The ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths was 4:1.
Neonates weighing 1500 g or more at birth represent a group with a high likelihood of survival in remote areas, making them potentially amenable to targeted intervention packages. The ratio of fresh to macerated stillbirths was approximately 10-fold higher than expected, suggesting a more prominent role for improved intrapartum obstetric interventions.
Africa; Early neonatal death; Fresh and macerated stillbirth; Low-income country
To create a comprehensive model of the comparative impact of various interventions on maternal, fetal, and neonatal (MFN) mortality.
The major conditions and sub-conditions contributing to MFN mortality in low-resource areas were identified, and the prevalence and case fatality rates documented. Available interventions were mapped to these conditions, and intervention coverage and efficacy were identified. Finally, a computer model developed by the Maternal and Neonatal Directed Assessment of Technology (MANDATE) initiative estimated the potential of current and new interventions to reduce mortality.
For PPH, the sub-causes, prevalence, and MFN case fatality rates were calculated. Available interventions were mapped to these sub-causes. Most available interventions did not prevent or treat the overall condition of PPH, but rather sub-conditions associated with hemorrhage and thus prevented only a fraction of the associated deaths.
The majority of current interventions address sub-conditions that cause death, rather than the overall condition; thus, the potential number of lives saved is likely to be overestimated. Additionally, the location at which mother and infant receive care affects intervention effectiveness and, therefore, the potential to save lives. A comprehensive view of MFN conditions is needed to understand the impact of any potential intervention.
Low-income countries; Maternal mortality; Model; Postpartum hemorrhage; Stillbirth
Infection may cause stillbirth by several mechanisms, including direct infection, placental damage, and severe maternal illness. Various organisms have been associated with stillbirth, including many bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. In developed countries, between 10% and 25% of stillbirths may be caused by an infection, whereas in developing countries, which have much higher stillbirth rates, the contribution of infection is much greater. In developed countries, ascending bacterial infection, both before and after membrane rupture, with organisms such as Escherichia coli, group B streptococci, and Ureaplasma urealyticum is usually the most common infectious cause of stillbirth. However, in areas where syphilis is prevalent, up to half of all stillbirths may be caused by this infection alone. Malaria may be an important cause of stillbirth in women infected for the first time in pregnancy. The two most important viral causes of stillbirth are parvovirus and Coxsackie virus, although a number of other viral infections appear to be causal. Toxoplasma gondii, leptospirosis, Listeria monocytogenes, and the organisms that cause leptospirosis, Q fever, and Lyme disease have all been implicated as etiologic for stillbirth. In certain developing countries, the stillbirth rate is high and the infection-related component so great that achieving a substantial reduction in stillbirth should be possible by reducing maternal infections. However, because infection-related stillbirth is uncommon in developed countries, and because those that do occur are caused by a wide variety of organisms, reducing this etiologic component of stillbirth much further will be difficult.
Chorioamnionitis; Infection; Stillbirth
Accurate assignment of gestational age at time of fetal death is important for research and clinical practice. An algorithm to estimate gestational age (GA) at fetal death was developed and evaluated.
The algorithm developed by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN) incorporated clinical and postmortem data. The SCRN conducted a population-based case-control study of women with stillbirths and live births from 2006 to 2008 in five geographic catchment areas. Rules were developed to estimate a due date, identify an interval during which death likely occurred, and estimate GA at the time of fetal death. Reliability of using fetal foot length to estimate GA at death was assessed.
The due date estimated for 620 singleton stillbirths studied was considered clinically reliable for 87%. Only 25.2% of stillbirths were documented alive within two days before diagnosis and 47.6% within one week of diagnosis. The algorithm-derived estimate of GA at time of fetal death was 1 or more weeks earlier than the GA at delivery for 43.5% of stillbirths. GA estimated from fetal foot length agreed with GA by algorithm within two weeks for 75% within a subset of well-dated stillbirths.
Precise assignment of GA at death, defined as reliable dating criteria and a short interval (≤1 week) during which fetal death was known to have occurred, was possible in 46.6% of cases. Fetal foot length is a relatively accurate measure of GA at death and should be collected in all stillbirth cases.
Relative contribution of these infections on anemia in pregnancy is not certain. While measures to protect pregnant women against malaria have been scaling up, interventions against helminthes have received much less attention. In this study, we determine the relative impact of helminthes and malaria on maternal anemia.
A prospective observational study was conducted in coastal Kenya among a cohort of pregnant women who were recruited at their first antenatal care (ANC) visit and tested for malaria, hookworm, and other parasitic infections and anemia at enrollment. All women enrolled in the study received presumptive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, iron and multi-vitamins and women diagnosed with helminthic infections were treated with albendazole. Women delivering a live, term birth, were also tested for maternal anemia, fetal anemia and presence of infection at delivery.
Of the 706 women studied, at the first ANC visit, 27% had moderate/severe anemia and 71% of women were anemic overall. The infections with highest prevalence were hookworm (24%), urogenital schistosomiasis (17%), trichuria (10%), and malaria (9%). In adjusted and unadjusted analyses, moderate/severe anemia at first ANC visit was associated with the higher intensities of hookworm and P. falciparum microscopy-malaria infections. At delivery, 34% of women had moderate/severe anemia and 18% of infants' cord hemoglobin was consistent with fetal anemia. While none of the maternal infections were significantly associated with fetal anemia, moderate/severe maternal anemia was associated with fetal anemia.
More than one quarter of women receiving standard ANC with IPTp for malaria had moderate/severe anemia in pregnancy and high rates of parasitic infection. Thus, addressing the role of co-infections, such as hookworm, as well as under-nutrition, and their contribution to anemia is needed.
International guidelines recommend routine prevention and treatments which are safe and effective during pregnancy to reduce hookworm, malaria and other infections among pregnant women living in geographic areas where these infections are prevalent. Despite their effectiveness, programs to address common infections such as hookworm, schistosomiasis and malaria during pregnancy have not been widely adopted. Hookworm, malaria and other infections have been associated with anemia in children, but the studies on the impact of these infections on anemia in pregnancy have not been as clear. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence of parasitic infections among women attending antenatal care which provided the nationally recommended malaria preventive treatment program in coastal Kenya. At the first ANC visit, more than 70% of women were anemic, nearly one-fourth had hookworm and about 10% had malaria. Women with high levels of hookworm or malaria infections were at risk of anemia.
We studied exposure to solid fuel smoke and second-hand tobacco smoke among pregnant women in south Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Prospective cross-sectional survey.
Antenatal clinics in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Uruguay, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, India and Pakistan.
A total of 7961 pregnant women in ten sites in nine countries were interviewed between October 2004 and September 2005.
A standardized questionnaire on exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP) and to secondhand smoke was administered to pregnant women during antenatal care.
Main Outcome Measures
Exposure to IAP and second-hand tobacco smoke.
South Asian pregnant women commonly reported use of wood (49.1%–89.7%), crop residue and animal dung for cooking and heating fuel. African pregnant women reported higher use of charcoal (85.4%–93.5%). Latin American pregnant women had greater use of petroleum gas. Among south Asian women, solid fuel use and cooking on an open flame inside the home were common. There was a significant association between solid fuel use and allowing smoking within the home at the Asian sites and in Zambia (p<0.05).
Pregnant women from low/middle income countries were commonly exposed to IAP secondary to use of solid fuels. Among these populations, exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke was also common. This combination of exposures likely increases the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes among the most vulnerable women. Our study highlights the importance of further research on the combined impact of IAP and second-hand tobacco smoke exposures on adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes.
Pregnancy; indoor air pollution; second-hand tobacco smoke exposure; smoking
Although the prevalence of tobacco use is decreasing in many high-income countries, it is increasing in many low-and middle-income countries. The health and economic burden of increasing tobacco use and dependence is predictable and will have devastating effects in countries with limited resources, particularly for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women. We sought to review effective tobacco prevention and intervention strategies for decreasing tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure before and during pregnancy in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. We reviewed several types of interventions, including population-level efforts (increasing tobacco prices, implementing tobacco control policies), community interventions, clinical interventions, and pharmacological treatments.
A second purpose of this report is to present findings of an international expert working group that was convened to review the evidence and to establish research priorities in the following areas: 1) preventing the uptake and reducing tobacco use among girls and women of reproductive age and 2) reducing tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure among pregnant women. The working group considered the evidence on existing interventions in terms of burden of disease, intervention impact, intervention costs, feasibility of integration into existing services, uniqueness of the contribution, and overall feasibility. Finally, we present the working group’s recommendations for intervention research priorities.
Global; tobacco; perinatal and reproductive health
To determine the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and attempts and to identify demographic variables and mental health correlates such as anxiety/depression and domestic violence among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan.
Cross sectional data from a prospective cohort study are presented.
Women enrolled in an antenatal care clinic and followed to delivery in an urban area of Pakistan
Cohort of pregnant women in Pakistan.
1,369 pregnant women were enrolled and interviewed regarding various maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes, and were asked specific questions about suicidal thoughts and attempts and administered the Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 20–26 weeks of gestation.
Main outcome measures
Suicidal thoughts and attempts, verbal, sexual or physical abuse.
Overall, 148 of the 1369 (11%) women studied had considered suicide. Of these, 148 women, 67 (45%) had attempted suicide. Eighteen percent of the women were classified as having depression/anxiety, almost half (48%) reported experiencing verbal abuse and 20% reported physical/sexual abuse. Women who had anxiety/depression or had experienced verbal or physical/sexual abuse were significantly more likely to have had suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Women at greatest risk for having suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt were those who were depressed/anxious and had experienced some form of domestic abuse. With the high prevalence of these conditions, attention should be given to the establishment of effective mental health treatment programs for pregnant women.
Suicidal thoughts; suicide attempts; pregnancy; abuse; anxiety/depression
The goal was to determine the effect of training in newborn care and resuscitation on 7-day (early) neonatal mortality rates for very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. The study was designed to test the hypothesis that these training programs would reduce neonatal mortality rates for VLBW infants.
Local instructors trained birth attendants from 96 rural communities in 6 developing countries in protocol and data collection, the World Health Organization Essential Newborn Care (ENC) course, and a modified version of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), by using a train-the-trainer model. To test the impact of ENC training, data on infants of 500 to 1499 g were collected by using a before/after, active baseline, controlled study design. A cluster-randomized, controlled trial design was used to test the impact of the NRP.
A total of 1096 VLBW (500–1499 g) infants were enrolled, and 98.5% of live-born infants were monitored to 7 days. All-cause, 7-day neonatal mortality, stillbirth, and perinatal mortality rates were not affected by ENC or NRP training.
Neither ENC nor NRP training of birth attendants decreased 7-day neonatal, stillbirth, or perinatal mortality rates for VLBW infants born at home or at first-level facilities. Encouragement of delivery in a facility where a higher level of care is available may be preferable when delivery of a VLBW infant is expected.
neonatal mortality; perinatal mortality; stillbirth; developing countries; health care systems; very low birth weight; prematurity
Anemia affects almost two-thirds of pregnant women in developing countries and contributes to maternal morbidity and mortality and to low birthweight.
To determine the prevalence of anemia and the dietary and socioeconomic factors associated with anemia in pregnant women living in an urban community setting in Hyderabad, Pakistan.
This was a prospective, observational study of 1,369 pregnant women enrolled at 20 to 26 weeks of gestation and followed to 6 weeks postpartum. A blood sample was obtained at enrollment to determine hemoglobin levels. Information on nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and practice and dietary history regarding usual food intake before and during pregnancy were obtained by trained interviewers within 1 week of enrollment.
The prevalence of anemia (defined by the World Health Organization as hemoglobin < 11.0 g/dL) in these subjects was 90.5%; of these, 75.0% had mild anemia (hemoglobin from 9.0 to 10.9 g/dL) and 14.8% had moderate anemia (hemoglobin from 7.0 to 8.9 g/dL). Only 0.7% were severely anemic (hemoglobin < 7.0 g/dL). Nonanemic women were significantly taller, weighed more, and had a higher body mass index. Multivariate analysis after adjustment for education, pregnancy history, iron supplementation, and height showed that drinking more than three cups of tea per day before pregnancy (adjusted prevalence odds ratio [aPOR], 3.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 8.0), consumption of clay or dirt during pregnancy (aPOR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.1 to 12.3), and never consuming eggs or consuming eggs less than twice a week during pregnancy (aPOR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.5) were significantly associated with anemia. Consumption of red meat less than twice a week prior to pregnancy was marginally associated with anemia (aPOR, 1.2; 95% CI, 0.8 to 1.8) but was significantly associated with lower mean hemoglobin concentrations (9.9 vs. 10.0 g/dL, p = .05) during the study period. A subanalysis excluding women with mild anemia found similar associations to those of the main model, albeit even stronger.
A high percentage of women at 20 to 26 weeks of pregnancy had mild to moderate anemia. Pica, tea consumption, and low intake of eggs and red meat were associated with anemia. Women of childbearing age should be provided nutritional education regarding food sources of iron, especially prior to becoming pregnant, and taught how food choices can either enhance or interfere with iron absorption.
Anemia; developing countries; pregnancy
To evaluate the evidence for prenatal corticosteroid use in low- and middle-income countries and to make recommendations regarding implementation and further research.
Studies and meta-analyses on prenatal corticosteroids relevant to low- and middle-income countries were identified and reviewed at the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Project (MCHIP) Antenatal Corticosteroid Conference held in Washington on October 19, 2010.
There is strong evidence regarding the effectiveness of prenatal corticosteroid use in hospitals in high- and middle-income countries, usually in settings with high-level newborn care. For births occurring in hospitals in low-income countries without high-level neonatal care or for births outside hospitals, no studies have been conducted to evaluate prenatal corticosteroid use. The efficacy and safety of prenatal corticosteroid use in these settings must be evaluated.
The conference working group recommended expanding the use of prenatal corticosteroids in hospitals with high-level newborn care in low-income countries. For other low-income country settings, further research regarding efficacy and safety should precede the widespread introduction of prenatal corticosteroids.
Low-resource countries; Prenatal corticosteroids; Preterm birth
In reviewing the research on stillbirth in developing countries, it becomes clear that because almost half of the deliveries in these settings occur at home, under-reporting of stillbirths is a significant problem, and reliable data about rates and causes are unavailable in some areas of the world. Nevertheless, of the estimated 3 million stillbirths which occur yearly, the vast majority in developing countries, with rates in many developing countries ten-fold higher than elsewhere. Classification systems have been adapted for developing countries; however, there is not a standard international system, nor is there agreement about stillbirth definitions making comparisons of cause of stillbirth over time or between sites problematic. From available data, prolonged and obstructed labor, and various infections all without adequate treatment, appear to account for the majority of stillbirths in developing countries. Strategies that have effectively reduced stillbirth in developed countries have had mixed results in developing countries or have not yet been tested; however, identification and treatment of infections such as syphilis has been shown effective in reducing stillbirth risk, while strategies to improve obstetric care have not been widely evaluated. Despite the large number of stillbirths worldwide, the topic of stillbirths in developing countries has received very little research, programmatic or policy attention. Better access to appropriate obstetric care, especially during labor, should reduce developing country stillbirth rates dramatically.
stillbirth; developing countries; perinatal mortality
Untreated infection may cause stillbirth by several mechanisms, including direct fetal infection, placental damage, and severe maternal illness. Many bacteria, viruses, and protozoa have been associated with stillbirth. In developed countries, up to 24% of stillbirths have been attributed to infection, although with increased availability of sophisticated diagnostics and rigorous screening, it appears likely that higher numbers may actually be associated with infection. In developed countries, ascending bacterial infection is usually the most common infectious cause of stillbirth, with a number of viral infections also an important factor. Screening, prevention and treatment of maternal infections are important to reduce stillbirth risk.
Stillbirth; infection; chorioamnionitis
Infection is an important cause of stillbirth world-wide; in low and
middle income countries (LMICs), 50% or more are likely caused by
infection. In contrast, in high income countries, only10-25% of
stillbirths are caused by infection. Syphilis, where prevalent, causes the
majority of infectious stillbirths and is the infection most amenable to
screening and treatment. Ascending bacterial infection is a common cause of
stillbirth, but prevention has proven elusive. Many viral infections are causal
for stillbirth but aside from vaccination for common childhood diseases, it is
unclear how most viral-caused stillbirths may be prevented. Malaria, because of
its high prevalence and extensive placental damage accounts for large numbers of
stillbirths. Intermittent malarial prophylaxis and insecticide impregnated bed
nets should decrease stillbirths. Many animal and vector-borne infections cause
stillbirth. Because this relationship is especially important in LMICs, research
that more clearly defines this relationship is crucial to reduce the
unacceptably high stillbirth rates in those areas.
Stillbirth; infection; congenital syphilis; vector-borne infections
To study pregnant women’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviors towards tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure, and exposure to advertising for and against tobacco products in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Prospective cross-sectional survey between November 2004 and September 2005.
Antenatal care clinics in Lusaka, Zambia and Kinshasa, DRC.
Pregnant women in Zambia (909) and the DRC (847).
Research staff administered a structured questionnaire to pregnant women attending antenatal care clinics.
Main Outcome Measures
Pregnant women’s use of tobacco, exposure to SHS, knowledge of the harms of tobacco, and exposure to advertising for and against tobacco products.
Only about 10% of pregnant women reported having ever tried cigarettes (6.6% Zambia; 14.1% DRC). However, in the DRC, 41.8% of pregnant women had ever tried other forms of tobacco, primarily snuff. About 10% of pregnant women and young children were frequently or always exposed to SHS. Pregnant women’s knowledge of the hazards of smoking and SHS exposure was extremely limited. About 13% of pregnant women had seen or heard advertising for tobacco products in the last 30 days.
Tobacco use and SHS exposure pose serious threats to the health of women, infants, and children. In many African countries, maternal and infant health outcomes are often poor and will likely worsen if maternal tobacco use increases. Our findings suggest that a “window of opportunity” exists to prevent increased tobacco use and SHS exposure of pregnant women in Zambia and the DRC.
Few studies have examined the relationship between antenatal depression, anxiety and domestic violence in pregnant women in developing countries, despite the World Health Organization's estimates that depressive disorders will be the second leading cause of the global disease burden by 2020. There is a paucity of research on mood disorders, their predictors and sequelae among pregnant women in Pakistan.
To determine the prevalence of anxiety and depression and evaluate associated factors, including domestic violence, among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan.
All pregnant women living in identified areas of Hyderabad, Pakistan were screened by government health workers for an observational study on maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes. Of these, 1368 (76%) of eligible women were administered the validated Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 20–26 weeks of gestation.
18 percent of the women were anxious and/or depressed. Psychological distress was associated with husband unemployment (p=0.032), lower household wealth (p=0.027), having 10 or more years of formal education (p=0.002), a first (p=0.002) and an unwanted pregnancy (p<0.001). The strongest factors associated with depression/anxiety were physical/sexual and verbal abuse; 42% of women who were physically and/or sexually abused and 23% of those with verbal abuse had depression/anxiety compared to 8% of those who were not abused.
Anxiety and depression commonly occur during pregnancy in Pakistani women; rates are highest in women experiencing sexual/physical as well as verbal abuse, but they also are increased among women with unemployed spouses and those with lower household wealth. These results suggest that developing a screening and treatment program for domestic violence and depression/anxiety during pregnancy may improve the mental health status of pregnant Pakistani women.
Pregnancy; depression; anxiety; Pakistan; measurement
The rationale is considered for promoting the availability of local, affordable, non-fortified food sources of bioavailable iron in developing countries. Intakes of iron from the regular consumption of meat from the age of six months are evaluated with respect to physiological requirements. The paper includes a description of two major randomized controlled trials of meat as a first and regular complementary food that are currently in progress. These trials involve poor communities in Guatemala, Pakistan, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and China.
iron; meat; complementary feeding
To describe the methods for assigning the cause of death for stillbirths enrolled in the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network (SCRN).
A complete evaluation, including postmortem examination, placental pathology, medical record abstraction, and maternal interview was available on 512 stillbirths among 500 women. These 512 stillbirths were evaluated for cause of death using the definitions outlined in this report. Using the best available evidence, SCRN investigators developed a new methodology to assign the cause of death of stillbirths using clinical, postmortem, and placental pathology data. This new tool, designated the Initial Causes of Fetal Death, incorporates known causes of death and assigns them as possible or probable based on strict diagnostic criteria, derived from published references and pathophysiologic sequences that lead to stillbirth.
Six broad categories of causes of death are accounted for, including maternal medical conditions; obstetric complications; maternal or fetal hematologic conditions; fetal genetic, structural, and karyotypic abnormalities; placental infection, fetal infection, or both; and placental pathologic findings. Isolated histologic chorioamnionitis and small for gestational age were not considered causes of death.
A new system, Initial Causes of Fetal Death, to assign cause of death in stillbirths was developed by the SCRN investigators for use in this study but has broader applicability. Initial Causes of Fetal Death is a standardized method to assign probable and possible causes of death of stillbirths based on information routinely collected during prenatal care and the clinical evaluation of fetal death.
Fetal and neonatal mortality rates in low-income countries are at least 10-fold greater than in high-income countries. These differences have been related to poor access to and poor quality of obstetric and neonatal care.
This trial tested the hypothesis that teams of health care providers, administrators and local residents can address the problem of limited access to quality obstetric and neonatal care and lead to a reduction in perinatal mortality in intervention compared to control locations. In seven geographic areas in five low-income and one middle-income country, most with high perinatal mortality rates and substantial numbers of home deliveries, we performed a cluster randomized non-masked trial of a package of interventions that included community mobilization focusing on birth planning and hospital transport, community birth attendant training in problem recognition, and facility staff training in the management of obstetric and neonatal emergencies. The primary outcome was perinatal mortality at ≥28 weeks gestation or birth weight ≥1000 g.
Despite extensive effort in all sites in each of the three intervention areas, no differences emerged in the primary or any secondary outcome between the intervention and control clusters. In both groups, the mean perinatal mortality was 40.1/1,000 births (P = 0.9996). Neither were there differences between the two groups in outcomes in the last six months of the project, in the year following intervention cessation, nor in the clusters that best implemented the intervention.
This cluster randomized comprehensive, large-scale, multi-sector intervention did not result in detectable impact on the proposed outcomes. While this does not negate the importance of these interventions, we expect that achieving improvement in pregnancy outcomes in these settings will require substantially more obstetric and neonatal care infrastructure than was available at the sites during this trial, and without them provider training and community mobilization will not be sufficient. Our results highlight the critical importance of evaluating outcomes in randomized trials, as interventions that should be effective may not be.
Stillbirth; Neonatal mortality; Maternal mortality; Emergency obstetric care
To describe the staffing and availability of medical equipment and medications and the performance of procedures at health facilities providing maternal and neonatal care at African, Asian, and Latin American sites participating in a multicenter trial to improve emergency obstetric/neonatal care in communities with high maternal and perinatal mortality.
In 2009, prior to intervention, we surveyed 136 hospitals and 228 clinics in 7 sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America regarding staffing, availability of equipment/ medications, and procedures including cesarean section.
The coverage of physicians and nurses/midwives was poor in Africa and Latin America. In Africa, only 20% of hospitals had full-time physicians. Only 70% of hospitals in Africa and Asia had performed cesarean sections in the last 6 months. Oxygen was unavailable in 40% of African hospitals and 17% of Asian hospitals. Blood was unavailable in 80% of African and Asian hospitals.
Assuming that adequate facility services are necessary to improve pregnancy outcomes, it is not surprising that maternal and perinatal mortality rates in the areas surveyed are high. The data presented emphasize that to reduce mortality in these areas, resources that result in improved staffing and sufficient equipment, supplies, and medication, along with training, are required.
emergency obstetric and neonatal care; developing countries; perinatal mortality
There are few studies of the association between placental malaria (PM) and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), and the results of published studies are inconsistent. To determine the association between PM and MTCT of HIV-1, we performed a secondary analysis of data from a clinical trial of antibiotics to reduce chorioamnionitis. Data regarding 1,662 HIV-1–infected women with live born singleton and first-born twin infants with information regarding PM and infant HIV-1 infection status at birth were analyzed. At the time of the study, women did not have access to antiretroviral drugs for treatment of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome but had received nevirapine prophylaxis to reduce the risk of MTCT of HIV-1. Placental malaria was not associated with the infant HIV-1 infection status at birth ( P = 0.67). Adjustment for maternal plasma viral load and CD4+ cell count did not change these results (odds ratio = 1.06, 95% confidence interval = 0.51–2.20, P = 0.87). Placental malaria was more likely to be related to HIV-1 infection at birth among women with low viral load at baseline (P for interaction = 0.08). In conclusion, PM was not associated with infant HIV-1 infection status at birth. The interaction of maternal plasma viral load, PM, and MTCT of HIV-1 warrants further studies.