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1.  Acute Illness Is Associated with Suppression of the Growth Hormone Axis in Zimbabwean Infants 
Frequent infections contribute to childhood stunting in developing countries but the causal pathways are uncertain. We tested the hypothesis that intercurrent illnesses suppress the growth hormone axis through reductions in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). In a birth cohort of 202 HIV-unexposed Zimbabwean infants, we analyzed data on 7-day illness recall and measured plasma interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, and IGF-1 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, at age 6 weeks, and then 3, 6, 12, and 18 months. Children with recent acute illness had lower IGF-1 concentrations than healthy children and IGF-1 correlated inversely (P < 0.05) with inflammatory biomarkers at most time points between 3 and 18 months. Using path analysis, we showed that cough and fever had a predominantly indirect effect on suppressing IGF-1, through the acute-phase response, whereas diarrhea had a predominantly direct effect on IGF-1. Acute illness may therefore impact the growth hormone axis through both direct and indirect pathways.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.14-0448
PMCID: PMC4347356  PMID: 25535308
3.  Theory-Driven Process Evaluation of the SHINE Trial Using a Program Impact Pathway Approach 
Two reasons for the lack of success of programs or interventions are poor alignment of interventions with the causes of the problem targeted by the intervention, leading to poor efficacy (theory failure), and failure to implement interventions as designed (program failure). These failures are important for both public health programs and randomized trials. In the Sanitation Hygiene and Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) Trial, we utilize the program impact pathway (PIP) approach to track intervention implementation and behavior uptake. In this article, we present the SHINE PIP including definitions and measurements of key mediating domains, and discuss the implications of this approach for randomized trials. Operationally, the PIP can be used for monitoring and strengthening intervention delivery, facilitating course-correction at various stages of implementation. Analytically, the PIP can facilitate a richer understanding of the mediating and modifying determinants of intervention impact than would be possible from an intention-to-treat analysis alone.
doi:10.1093/cid/civ716
PMCID: PMC4657588  PMID: 26602304
process evaluation; program impact pathway; intention to treat; per protocol
4.  Design of an Intervention to Minimize Ingestion of Fecal Microbes by Young Children in Rural Zimbabwe 
We sought to develop a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention to minimize fecal–oral transmission among children aged 0–18 months in the Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) trial. We undertook 4 phases of formative research, comprising in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, behavior trials, and a combination of observations and microbiological sampling methods. The resulting WASH intervention comprises material inputs and behavior change communication to promote stool disposal, handwashing with soap, water treatment, protected exploratory play, and hygienic infant feeding. Nurture and disgust were found to be key motivators, and are used as emotional triggers. The concept of a safe play space for young children was particularly novel, and families were eager to implement this after learning about the risks of unprotected exploratory play. An iterative process of formative research was essential to create a sequenced and integrated longitudinal intervention for a SHINE household as it expects (during pregnancy) and then cares for a new child.
doi:10.1093/cid/civ845
PMCID: PMC4657590  PMID: 26602297
water, sanitation and hygiene; intervention design research; formative research; stunting; environmental enteric dysfunction
5.  The SHINE Trial Infant Feeding Intervention: Pilot Study of Effects on Maternal Learning and Infant Diet Quality in Rural Zimbabwe 
The Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) trial is designed to measure the independent and combined effects of improved water, sanitation, and hygiene and improved infant feeding on child stunting and anemia in Zimbabwe. We developed and pilot-tested the infant feeding intervention delivered by 9 village health workers to 19 mothers of infants aged 7–12 months. Between September 2010 and January 2011, maternal knowledge was assessed using mixed methods, and infant nutrient intakes were assessed by 24-hour recall. We observed positive shifts in mothers' knowledge. At baseline, 63% of infants met their energy requirement and most did not receive enough folate, zinc, or calcium; none met their iron requirement. Postintervention, all infants received sufficient fat and vitamin A, and most consumed enough daily energy (79%), protein (95%), calcium (89%), zinc (89%), folate (68%), and iron (68%). The SHINE trial infant feeding intervention led to significant short-term improvements in maternal learning and infant nutrient intakes.
doi:10.1093/cid/civ846
PMCID: PMC4657591  PMID: 26602298
infant and young child feeding; intervention design research; dietary assessment; complementary feeding; lipid-based nutrient supplement
6.  Using Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis Methods to Assess Household Water Access and Sanitation Coverage in the SHINE Trial 
Access to water and sanitation are important determinants of behavioral responses to hygiene and sanitation interventions. We estimated cluster-specific water access and sanitation coverage to inform a constrained randomization technique in the SHINE trial. Technicians and engineers inspected all public access water sources to ascertain seasonality, function, and geospatial coordinates. Households and water sources were mapped using open-source geospatial software. The distance from each household to the nearest perennial, functional, protected water source was calculated, and for each cluster, the median distance and the proportion of households within <500 m and >1500 m of such a water source. Cluster-specific sanitation coverage was ascertained using a random sample of 13 households per cluster. These parameters were included as covariates in randomization to optimize balance in water and sanitation access across treatment arms at the start of the trial. The observed high variability between clusters in both parameters suggests that constraining on these factors was needed to reduce risk of bias.
doi:10.1093/cid/civ847
PMCID: PMC4657592  PMID: 26602299
spatial analysis; water access; water coverage; geographic information systems; georeferenced dataset
7.  Assessment of Environmental Enteric Dysfunction in the SHINE Trial: Methods and Challenges 
Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is a virtually ubiquitous, but poorly defined, disorder of the small intestine among people living in conditions of poverty, which begins early in infancy and persists. EED is characterized by altered gut structure and function, leading to reduced absorptive surface area and impaired intestinal barrier function. It is hypothesized that recurrent exposure to fecal pathogens and changes in the composition of the intestinal microbiota initiate this process, which leads to a self-perpetuating cycle of pathology. We view EED as a primary gut disorder that drives chronic systemic inflammation, leading to growth hormone resistance and impaired linear growth. There is currently no accepted case definition or gold-standard biomarker of EED, making field studies challenging. The Sanitation Hygiene Infant Nutrition Efficacy (SHINE) trial in Zimbabwe is evaluating the independent and combined effects of a package of infant feeding and/or water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions on stunting and anemia. SHINE therefore provides an opportunity to longitudinally evaluate EED in a well-characterized cohort of infants, using a panel of biomarkers along the hypothesized causal pathway. Our aims are to describe the evolution of EED during infancy, ascertain its contribution to stunting, and investigate the impact of the randomized interventions on the EED pathway. In this article, we describe current concepts of EED, challenges in defining the condition, and our approach to evaluating EED in the SHINE trial.
doi:10.1093/cid/civ848
PMCID: PMC4657593  PMID: 26602300
infants; stunting; environmental enteric dysfunction; inflammation; IGF-1
8.  Dosing of Praziquantel by Height in Sub-Saharan African Adults 
The cornerstone of schistosomiasis control is mass praziquantel treatment in high prevalence areas. Adults are an important target population, given increasing recognition of the burden of male and female genital schistosomiasis. However, use of weighing scales to calculate praziquantel dosing in rural areas can be challenging. For school-age children, the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved a dose pole to simplify praziquantel dosing based on height. We modified the pediatric dose pole by adding two height categories and incorporating a simple overweight/obesity adjustment, for simplified mass treatment of adults in sub-Saharan Africa. Using the rural Zimbabwean Demographic and Health Survey data, we show that the modified dose pole with body mass index adjustment would result in > 98% of adults receiving an acceptable dose (30–60 mg/kg), with only 1.4% and 0.3% receiving an inadequate dose (< 30 mg/kg) or high dose (> 60 mg/kg), respectively. An adult dose pole may provide a more feasible alternative to weighing scales in community-based praziquantel treatment programs.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.13-0252
PMCID: PMC3973506  PMID: 24591432
9.  Plasma Concentrations of Hepcidin in Anemic Zimbabwean Infants 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(8):e0135227.
Objective
Anemia in infancy is a global public health problem. We evaluated the relative contributions of iron deficiency and inflammation to infant anemia.
Methods
We measured plasma hepcidin, ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), alpha-1-acid glycoprotein and C-reactive protein (CRP) by ELISA on archived plasma from 289 HIV-unexposed anemic or non-anemic Zimbabwean infants at ages 3mo, 6mo and 12mo. Among anemic infants, we determined the proportion with iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) and anemia of inflammation (AI). We undertook regression analyses of plasma hepcidin and anemia status, adjusting for sex, age and birthweight.
Results
Anemic infants at 3mo were more stunted and had higher CRP (median 0.45 vs 0.21mg/L; P = 0.037) and hepcidin (median 14.7 vs 9.7ng/mL; P = 0.022) than non-anemic infants, but similar levels of ferritin and sTfR; 11% infants had IDA and 15% had AI. Anemic infants at 6mo had higher hepcidin (median 7.9 vs 4.5ng/mL; P = 0.016) and CRP (median 2.33 vs 0.32mg/L; P<0.001), but lower ferritin (median 13.2 vs 25.1μg/L; P<0.001) than non-anemic infants; 56% infants had IDA and 12% had AI. Anemic infants at 12mo had lower ferritin (median 3.2 vs 22.2μg/L; P<0.001) and hepcidin (median 0.9 vs 1.9ng/mL; P = 0.019), but similar CRP levels; 48% infants had IDA and 8% had AI. Comparing anemic with non-anemic infants, plasma hepcidin was 568% higher, 405% higher and 64% lower at 3mo, 6mo and 12mo, respectively, after adjusting for sex and birthweight (all p<0.01). Plasma hepcidin declined significantly with age among anemic but not non-anemic infants. Girls had 61% higher hepcidin than boys, after adjusting for age, anemia and birthweight (p<0.001).
Conclusion
Anemia is driven partly by inflammation early in infancy, and by iron deficiency later in infancy, with plasma hepcidin concentrations reflecting the relative contribution of each. However, there is need to better characterize the drivers of hepcidin during infancy in developing countries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135227
PMCID: PMC4529326  PMID: 26252205
10.  Linear growth faltering in infants is associated with Acidaminococcus sp. and community-level changes in the gut microbiota 
Microbiome  2015;3:24.
Background
Chronic malnutrition, termed stunting, is defined as suboptimal linear growth, affects one third of children in developing countries, and leads to increased mortality and poor developmental outcomes. The causes of childhood stunting are unknown, and strategies to improve growth and related outcomes in children have only had modest impacts. Recent studies have shown that the ecosystem of microbes in the human gut, termed the microbiota, can induce changes in weight. However, the specific changes in the gut microbiota that contribute to growth remain unknown, and no studies have investigated the gut microbiota as a determinant of chronic malnutrition.
Results
We performed secondary analyses of data from two well-characterized twin cohorts of children from Malawi and Bangladesh to identify bacterial genera associated with linear growth. In a case-control analysis, we used the graphical lasso to estimate covariance network models of gut microbial interactions from relative genus abundances and used network analysis methods to select genera associated with stunting severity. In longitudinal analyses, we determined associations between these selected microbes and linear growth using between-within twin regression models to adjust for confounding and introduce temporality. Reduced microbiota diversity and increased covariance network density were associated with stunting severity, while increased relative abundance of Acidaminococcus sp. was associated with future linear growth deficits.
Conclusions
We show that length growth in children is associated with community-wide changes in the gut microbiota and with the abundance of the bacterial genus, Acidaminococcus. Larger cohorts are needed to confirm these findings and to clarify the mechanisms involved.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0089-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s40168-015-0089-2
PMCID: PMC4477476  PMID: 26106478
Microbiota; Microbiome; Intestinal; Stunting; Growth; Statistical learning; Networks
11.  Congenital and Postnatal CMV and EBV Acquisition in HIV-Infected Zimbabwean Infants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e114870.
Background
HIV-infected infants in sub-Saharan Africa have rapid disease progression. We hypothesized that co-infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) or Epstein Barr virus (EBV) increases mortality in HIV-infected infants.
Methods
257 antiretroviral therapy-naïve HIV-infected Zimbabwean infants were tested for CMV and EBV at 6 weeks of age by real-time PCR; if positive, birth samples were retrieved where available to distinguish congenital and postnatal infection. The impact of co-infection on mortality through 6 months was estimated using Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards methods.
Results
At 6 weeks, 203/257 (79%) HIV-infected infants were CMV-positive; 27 (11%) had congenital CMV, 108 (42%) postnatal CMV and 68 (26%) indeterminate timing of infection. By 6 months, 37/108 (34%) infants with postnatal CMV versus 16/54 (30%) CMV-negative infants died (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.1 [95%CI 0.6, 2.2]). At 6 weeks, 33/257 (13%) HIV-infected infants had EBV co-infection; 6 (2%) had congenital EBV, 18 (7%) postnatal EBV and 9 (4%) indeterminate timing of infection. By 6 months, 5/18 (28%) infants with postnatal EBV versus 72/224 (32%) EBV-negative infants died (aHR 0.8 [95%CI 0.3, 2.3]).
Conclusions
The vast majority of HIV-infants had acquired CMV by 6 weeks, and EBV co-infection occurred earlier than expected, with one in eight HIV-infected infants positive for EBV by 6 weeks. There was a high prevalence of congenital CMV infection and we identified 6 infants with congenital EBV infection, which has not previously been reported in Africa or in the context of HIV infection. Neither CMV nor EBV co-infection was associated with increased mortality.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114870
PMCID: PMC4270791  PMID: 25522217
12.  The stunting syndrome in developing countries 
Linear growth failure is the most common form of undernutrition globally. With an estimated 165 million children below 5 years of age affected, stunting has been identified as a major public health priority, and there are ambitious targets to reduce the prevalence of stunting by 40% between 2010 and 2025. We view this condition as a ‘stunting syndrome’ in which multiple pathological changes marked by linear growth retardation in early life are associated with increased morbidity and mortality, reduced physical, neurodevelopmental and economic capacity and an elevated risk of metabolic disease into adulthood. Stunting is a cyclical process because women who were themselves stunted in childhood tend to have stunted offspring, creating an intergenerational cycle of poverty and reduced human capital that is difficult to break. In this review, the mechanisms underlying linear growth failure at different ages are described, the short-, medium- and long-term consequences of stunting are discussed, and the evidence for windows of opportunity during the life cycle to target interventions at the stunting syndrome are evaluated.
doi:10.1179/2046905514Y.0000000158
PMCID: PMC4232245  PMID: 25310000
Stunting; Malnutrition; Mortality; Neurodevelopment; Infections
13.  Risk of childhood undernutrition related to small-for-gestational age and preterm birth in low- and middle-income countries 
Background Low- and middle-income countries continue to experience a large burden of stunting; 148 million children were estimated to be stunted, around 30–40% of all children in 2011. In many of these countries, foetal growth restriction (FGR) is common, as is subsequent growth faltering in the first 2 years. Although there is agreement that stunting involves both prenatal and postnatal growth failure, the extent to which FGR contributes to stunting and other indicators of nutritional status is uncertain.
Methods Using extant longitudinal birth cohorts (n = 19) with data on birthweight, gestational age and child anthropometry (12–60 months), we estimated study-specific and pooled risk estimates of stunting, wasting and underweight by small-for-gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth.
Results We grouped children according to four combinations of SGA and gestational age: adequate size-for-gestational age (AGA) and preterm; SGA and term; SGA and preterm; and AGA and term (the reference group). Relative to AGA and term, the OR (95% confidence interval) for stunting associated with AGA and preterm, SGA and term, and SGA and preterm was 1.93 (1.71, 2.18), 2.43 (2.22, 2.66) and 4.51 (3.42, 5.93), respectively. A similar magnitude of risk was also observed for wasting and underweight. Low birthweight was associated with 2.5–3.5-fold higher odds of wasting, stunting and underweight. The population attributable risk for overall SGA for outcomes of childhood stunting and wasting was 20% and 30%, respectively.
Conclusions This analysis estimates that childhood undernutrition may have its origins in the foetal period, suggesting a need to intervene early, ideally during pregnancy, with interventions known to reduce FGR and preterm birth.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt109
PMCID: PMC3816349  PMID: 23920141
Foetal growth restriction; preterm birth; stunting; wasting; childhood
14.  Stunting Is Characterized by Chronic Inflammation in Zimbabwean Infants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86928.
Background
Stunting affects one-third of children in developing countries, but the causes remain unclear. We hypothesized that enteropathy leads to low-grade inflammation, which suppresses the growth hormone-IGF axis and mediates stunting.
Methods
We conducted a case-control study of 202 HIV-unexposed Zimbabwean infants who were stunted (height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) <−2; cases) or non-stunted (HAZ >−0.5; controls) at 18 months. We measured biomarkers of intestinal damage (I-FABP), inflammation (CRP, AGP, IL-6) and growth hormone-IGF axis (IGF-1, IGFBP3) in infant plasma at 6 weeks and 3, 6, 12 and 18 months, and in paired maternal-infant plasma at birth. Adjusted mean differences between biomarkers were estimated using regression models. Multivariate odds ratios of stunting were estimated by logistic regression.
Results
At birth, cases were shorter (median (IQR) HAZ −1.00 (−1.53, −0.08) vs 0.03 (−0.57, 0.62,); P<0.001) than controls and their mothers had lower levels of IGF-1 (adjusted mean difference (95%CI) −21.4 (−39.8, −3.1) ng/mL). From 6 weeks to 12 months of age, levels of CRP and AGP were consistently higher and IGF-1 and IGFBP3 lower in cases versus controls; IGF-1 correlated inversely with inflammatory markers at all time-points. I-FABP increased between 3–12 months, indicating extensive intestinal damage during infancy, which was similar in cases and controls. In multivariate analysis, higher log10 levels of CRP (aOR 3.06 (95%CI 1.34, 6.99); P = 0.008) and AGP (aOR 7.87 (95%CI 0.74, 83.74); P = 0.087) during infancy were associated with stunting. There were no associations between levels of I-FABP, IL-6, sCD14 or EndoCAb and stunting.
Conclusions
Stunting began in utero and was associated with low maternal IGF-1 levels at birth. Inflammatory markers were higher in cases than controls from 6 weeks of age and were associated with lower levels of IGF-1 throughout infancy. Higher levels of CRP and AGP during infancy were associated with stunting. These findings suggest that an extensive enteropathy occurs during infancy and that low-grade chronic inflammation may impair infant growth.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086928
PMCID: PMC3928146  PMID: 24558364
15.  Risk of childhood undernutrition related to small-for-gestational age and preterm birth in low- and middle-income countries 
International journal of epidemiology  2013;42(5):10.1093/ije/dyt109.
Background
Low- and middle-income countries continue to experience a large burden of stunting; 148 million children were estimated to be stunted, around 30–40% of all children in 2011. In many of these countries, foetal growth restriction (FGR) is common, as is subsequent growth faltering in the first 2 years. Although there is agreement that stunting involves both prenatal and postnatal growth failure, the extent to which FGR contributes to stunting and other indicators of nutritional status is uncertain.
Methods
Using extant longitudinal birth cohorts (n = 19) with data on birth-weight, gestational age and child anthropometry (12–60 months), we estimated study-specific and pooled risk estimates of stunting, wasting and underweight by small-for-gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth.
Results
We grouped children according to four combinations of SGA and gestational age: adequate size-for-gestational age (AGA) and preterm; SGA and term; SGA and preterm; and AGA and term (the reference group). Relative to AGA and term, the OR (95% confidence interval) for stunting associated with AGA and preterm, SGA and term, and SGA and preterm was 1.93 (1.71, 2.18), 2.43 (2.22, 2.66) and 4.51 (3.42, 5.93), respectively. A similar magnitude of risk was also observed for wasting and underweight. Low birthweight was associated with 2.5–3.5-fold higher odds of wasting, stunting and underweight. The population attributable risk for overall SGA for outcomes of childhood stunting and wasting was 20% and 30%, respectively.
Conclusions
This analysis estimates that childhood undernutrition may have its origins in the foetal period, suggesting a need to intervene early, ideally during pregnancy, with interventions known to reduce FGR and preterm birth.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt109
PMCID: PMC3816349  PMID: 23920141
Foetal growth restriction; preterm birth; stunting; wasting; childhood
16.  Formative Research on Hygiene Behaviors and Geophagy among Infants and Young Children and Implications of Exposure to Fecal Bacteria 
We conducted direct observation of 23 caregiver–infant pairs for 130 hours and recorded wash-related behaviors to identify pathways of fecal–oral transmission of bacteria among infants. In addition to testing fingers, food, and drinking water of infants, three infants actively ingested 11.3 ± 9.2 (mean ± SD) handfuls of soil and two ingested chicken feces 2 ± 1.4 times in 6 hours. Hand washing with soap was not common and drinking water was contaminated with Escherichia coli in half (12 of 22) of the households. A one-year-old infant ingesting 1 gram of chicken feces in a day and 20 grams of soil from a laundry area of the kitchen yard would consume 4,700,000–23,000,000 and 440–4,240 E. coli, respectively, from these sources. Besides standard wash and nutrition interventions, infants in low-income communities should be protected from exploratory ingestion of chicken feces, soil, and geophagia for optimal child health and growth.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.12-0568
PMCID: PMC3795101  PMID: 24002485
17.  Predictive Value of Weight Loss on Mortality of HIV-Positive Mothers in a Prolonged Breastfeeding Setting 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(11):1141-1148.
Abstract
HIV-positive lactating women may be at high risk of weight loss due to increased caloric requirements and postpartum physiological weight loss. Ten percent weight loss is associated with a higher risk of mortality in HIV-positive patients and this alone is a criterion for highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) initiation where CD4 counts are not available. However, no study has investigated this association in lactating postpartum women. We investigated whether 10% weight loss predicts death in postpartum HIV-positive women. A total of 9207 HIV-negative and 4495 HIV-positive mothers were recruited at delivery. Women were weighed at 6 weeks, 3 months, and every 3 months thereafter for up to 24 months postpartum and data on mortality up to 2 years were collected. The median duration of breastfeeding was longer than 18 months. Among HIV-positive women, the independent predictors of ≥10% weight loss were CD4 cell count, body mass index, and household income. Mortality was up to 7.12 (95% CI 3.47–14.61) times higher in HIV-positive women with ≥10% weight loss than those without weight loss. Ten percent weight loss in postpartum lactating HIV-positive women was significantly predictive of death. Our findings suggest that 10% weight loss is an appropriate criterion for HAART initiation among postpartum breastfeeding women.
doi:10.1089/aid.2010.0293
PMCID: PMC3243462  PMID: 21226627
18.  In utero and intra-partum HIV-1 transmission and acute HIV-1 infection during pregnancy: using the BED capture enzyme-immunoassay as a surrogate marker for acute infection 
Objective The BED assay was developed to estimate the proportion of recent HIV infections in a population. We used the BED assay as a proxy for acute infection to quantify the associated risk of mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) during pregnancy and delivery.
Design A total of 3773 HIV-1 sero-positive women were tested within 96 h of delivery using the BED assay, and CD4 cell count measurements were taken. Mothers were classified according to their likelihood of having recently seroconverted.
Methods The risk of MTCT in utero and intra-partum was assessed comparing different groups defined by BED and CD4 cell count, adjusting for background factors using multinomial logistic models.
Results Compared with women with BED ≥ 0.8/CD4 ≥ 350 (typical of HIV-1 chronic patients) there was insufficient evidence to conclude that women presenting with BED < 0.8/CD4 ≥ 350 (typical of recent infections) were more likely to transmit in utero [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.37, 96% confidence interval (CI) 0.90–2.08, P = 0.14], whereas women with BED < 0.8/CD4 200–349 (possibly recently infected patients) had a 2.57 (95% CI 1.39–4.77, P-value < 0.01) odds of transmitting in utero. Women who had BED < 0.8/CD4 < 200 were most likely to transmit in utero (aOR 3.73, 95% CI 1.27–10.96, P = 0.02). BED and CD4 cell count were not predictive of intra-partum infections.
Conclusions These data provide evidence that in utero transmission of HIV might be higher among women who seroconvert during pregnancy.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyr055
PMCID: PMC3156369  PMID: 21471020
BED; CD4; in utero; intra-partum; seroconversion; HIV
19.  Naturally-Occurring Genetic Variants in Human DC-SIGN Increase HIV-1 Capture, Cell-Transfer and Risk of Mother-To-Child Transmission 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40706.
Background
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is the main cause of HIV-1 infection in children worldwide. Dendritic cell–specific ICAM-3 grabbing-nonintegrin (DC-SIGN, also known as CD209) is an HIV-1 receptor that enhances its transmission to T cells and is expressed on placental macrophages.
Methods and Findings
We have investigated the association between DC-SIGN genetic variants and risk of MTCT of HIV-1 among Zimbabwean infants and characterized the impact of the associated mutations on DC-SIGN expression and interaction with HIV-1. DC-SIGN promoter (p-336C and p-201A) and exon 4 (198Q and 242V) variants were all significantly associated with increased risk of intrauterine (IU) HIV-1 infection. Promoter variants decreased DC-SIGN expression both in vitro and in placental CD163+ macrophages (Hofbauer cells) of HIV-1 unexposed infants but not of HIV-1 exposed infants. The exon 4 protein-modifying mutations increased HIV-1 capture and transmission to T cells in vitro.
Conclusion
This study provides compelling evidence to support an important role of DC-SIGN in IU HIV-1 infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040706
PMCID: PMC3393705  PMID: 22808239
20.  Postpartum Plasma CD4 Change in HIV-Positive Women: Implications for Timing of HAART Initiation 
Abstract
CD4 counts increase during the postpartum period and may not correctly identify HAART-eligible HIV-positive women. HAART eligibility when defined by two CD4 cutoffs (<200 and <350 cells/μl) measured at two time points (within 96 h of delivery and 6 weeks) in postpartum HIV-positive women was compared. Among HIV-positive women who had CD4 at delivery and 6 weeks (n = 423), time to Stage 3 or 4 opportunistic infection or death was compared using Cox regression between three groups of women: (1) CD4 <200 cells/μl at delivery and 6 weeks, (2) CD4 <200 cells/μl at delivery but ≥200 cells/μl at 6 weeks, and (3) CD4 ≥200 cells/μl at delivery and at 6 weeks. The analysis was repeated using the CD4 <350 cells/μl cut-off. CD4 counts increased by a median (IQR) of 70 (1–178) cells/μl between delivery and 6 weeks and decreased thereafter to approximately delivery levels at 12 months. Only 60% and 61% who had CD4 <200 cells/μl and CD4 <350 cells/μl, respectively, at delivery also had those levels at 6 weeks. Among those with CD4 <350 cells/μl at both delivery and 6 weeks, the risk of death or Stage 3 or 4 disease was 5.27 (95% CI 1.85–14.96) times higher than those with CD4 <350 at delivery but ≥350 cells/μl at 6 weeks. The use of CD4 counts immediately postpartum to define HAART eligibility may lead to substantial misclassification.
doi:10.1089/aid.2009.0138
PMCID: PMC3120221  PMID: 20455759
21.  Mother to child transmission of HIV among Zimbabwean women who seroconverted postnatally: prospective cohort study 
Objectives To estimate the rates and timing of mother to infant transmission of HIV associated with breast feeding in mothers who seroconvert postnatally, and their breast milk and plasma HIV loads during and following seroconversion, compared with women who tested HIV positive at delivery.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Urban Zimbabwe.
Participants 14 110 women and infants enrolled in the Zimbabwe Vitamin A for Mothers and Babies (ZVITAMBO) trial (1997-2001).
Main outcome measures Mother to child transmission of HIV, and breast milk and maternal plasma HIV load during the postpartum period.
Results Among mothers who tested HIV positive at baseline and whose infant tested HIV negative with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at six weeks (n=2870), breastfeeding associated transmission was responsible for an average of 8.96 infant infections per 100 child years of breast feeding (95% CI 7.92 to 10.14) and varied little over the breastfeeding period. Breastfeeding associated transmission for mothers who seroconverted postnatally (n=334) averaged 34.56 infant infections per 100 child years (95% CI 26.60 to 44.91) during the first nine months after maternal infection, declined to 9.50 (95% CI 3.07 to 29.47) during the next three months, and was zero thereafter. Among women who seroconverted postnatally and in whom the precise timing of infection was known (≤90 days between last negative and first positive test; n=51), 62% (8/13) of transmissions occurred in the first three months after maternal infection and breastfeeding associated transmission was 4.6 times higher than in mothers who tested HIV positive at baseline and whose infant tested HIV negative with PCR at six weeks. Median plasma HIV concentration in all mothers who seroconverted postnatally declined from 5.0 log10 copies/mL at the last negative enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to 4.1 log10 copies/mL at 9-12 months after infection. Breast milk HIV load in this group was 4.3 log10 copies/mL 0-30 days after infection, but rapidly declined to 2.0 log10 copies/mL and <1.5 log10 copies/mL by 31-90 days and more than 90 days, respectively. Among women whose plasma sample collected soon after delivery tested negative for HIV with ELISA but positive with PCR (n=17), 75% of their infants were infected or had died by 12 months. An estimated 18.6% to 20.4% of all breastfeeding associated transmission observed in the ZVITAMBO trial occurred among mothers who seroconverted postnatally.
Conclusions Breastfeeding associated transmission is high during primary maternal HIV infection and is mirrored by a high but transient peak in breast milk HIV load. Around two thirds of breastfeeding associated transmission by women who seroconvert postnatally may occur while the mother is still in the “window period” of an antibody based test, when she would test HIV negative using one of these tests.
Trial registration Clinical trials.gov NCT00198718.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c6580
PMCID: PMC3007097  PMID: 21177735
22.  Functional Genetic Variants in DC-SIGNR Are Associated with Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV-1 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7211.
Background
Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is the main cause of HIV-1 infection in children worldwide. Given that the C-type lectin receptor, dendritic cell-specific ICAM-grabbing non-integrin-related (DC-SIGNR, also known as CD209L or liver/lymph node–specific ICAM-grabbing non-integrin (L-SIGN)), can interact with pathogens including HIV-1 and is expressed at the maternal-fetal interface, we hypothesized that it could influence MTCT of HIV-1.
Methods and Findings
To investigate the potential role of DC-SIGNR in MTCT of HIV-1, we carried out a genetic association study of DC-SIGNR in a well-characterized cohort of 197 HIV-infected mothers and their infants recruited in Harare, Zimbabwe. Infants harbouring two copies of DC-SIGNR H1 and/or H3 haplotypes (H1-H1, H1-H3, H3-H3) had a 3.6-fold increased risk of in utero (IU) (P = 0.013) HIV-1 infection and a 5.7-fold increased risk of intrapartum (IP) (P = 0.025) HIV-1 infection after adjusting for a number of maternal factors. The implicated H1 and H3 haplotypes share two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in promoter region (p-198A) and intron 2 (int2-180A) that were associated with increased risk of both IU (P = 0.045 and P = 0.003, respectively) and IP (P = 0.025, for int2-180A) HIV-1 infection. The promoter variant reduced transcriptional activity in vitro. In homozygous H1 infants bearing both the p-198A and int2-180A mutations, we observed a 4-fold decrease in the level of placental DC-SIGNR transcripts, disproportionately affecting the expression of membrane-bound isoforms compared to infant noncarriers (P = 0.011).
Conclusion
These results suggest that DC-SIGNR plays a crucial role in MTCT of HIV-1 and that impaired placental DC-SIGNR expression increases risk of transmission.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007211
PMCID: PMC2752805  PMID: 19809496
23.  Neonatal erythropoiesis and subsequent anemia in HIV-positive and HIV-negative Zimbabwean babies during the first year of life: a longitudinal study 
Background
Anemia is common in HIV infection and independently associated with disease progression and mortality. The pathophysiology of HIV-related anemia is not well understood especially in infancy.
Methods
We conducted a longitudinal cohort study nested within the Zimbabwe Vitamin A for Mothers and Babies Project. We measured hemoglobin, erythropoietin (EPO), serum transferrin receptor (TfR) and serum ferritin at 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months of age and hemoglobin at 9 and 12 months in 3 groups of randomly selected infants: 136 born to HIV-negative mothers, and 99 born to HIV-positive mothers and who were infected themselves by 6 weeks of age, and 324 born to HIV-positive mothers but who did not become infected in the 6 months following birth.
Results
At one year of age, HIV-positive infants were 5.26 (adjusted odds ratio, P < 0.001) times more likely to be anemic compared to HIV-negative infants. Among, HIV-negative infants, EPO was or tended to be inversely associated with hemoglobin and was significantly positively associated with TfR throughout the first 6 months of life; TfR was significantly inversely associated with ferritin at 6 months; and EPO explained more of the variability in TfR than did ferritin. Among infected infants, the inverse association of EPO to hemoglobin was attenuated during early infancy, but significant at 6 months. Similar to HIV-negative infants, EPO was significantly positively associated with TfR throughout the first 6 months of life. However, the inverse association between TfR and ferritin observed among HIV-negative infants at 6 months was not observed among infected infants. Between birth and 6 months, mean serum ferritin concentration declined sharply (by ~90%) in all three groups of babies, but was significantly higher among HIV-positive compared to HIV-negative babies at all time points.
Conclusion
HIV strongly increases anemia risk and confounds interpretation of hematologic indicators in infants. Among HIV-infected infants, the EPO response to anemia is attenuated near the time of infection in the first weeks of life, but normalizes by 6 months.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-1
PMCID: PMC1361802  PMID: 16390553
24.  The impact of antibiotics on growth in children in low and middle income countries: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials 
Objectives To determine whether antibiotic treatment leads to improvements in growth in prepubertal children in low and middle income countries, to determine the magnitude of improvements in growth, and to identify moderators of this treatment effect.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Scopus, the Cochrane central register of controlled trials, and Web of Science.
Study selection Randomised controlled trials conducted in low or middle income countries in which an orally administered antibacterial agent was allocated by randomisation or minimisation and growth was measured as an outcome. Participants aged 1 month to 12 years were included. Control was placebo or non-antimicrobial intervention.
Results Data were pooled from 10 randomised controlled trials representing 4316 children, across a variety of antibiotics, indications for treatment, treatment regimens, and countries. In random effects models, antibiotic use increased height by 0.04 cm/month (95% confidence interval 0.00 to 0.07) and weight by 23.8 g/month (95% confidence interval 4.3 to 43.3). After adjusting for age, effects on height were larger in younger populations and effects on weight were larger in African studies compared with other regions.
Conclusion Antibiotics have a growth promoting effect in prepubertal children in low and middle income countries. This effect was more pronounced for ponderal than for linear growth. The antibiotic growth promoting effect may be mediated by treatment of clinical or subclinical infections or possibly by modulation of the intestinal microbiota. Better definition of the mechanisms underlying this effect will be important to inform optimal and safe approaches to achieving healthy growth in vulnerable populations.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g2267
PMCID: PMC3988318  PMID: 24735883

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