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1.  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
2.  The associations of parity and maternal age with small-for-gestational-age, preterm, and neonatal and infant mortality: a meta-analysis 
BMC Public Health  2013;13(Suppl 3):S2.
Background
Previous studies have reported on adverse neonatal outcomes associated with parity and maternal age. Many of these studies have relied on cross-sectional data, from which drawing causal inference is complex. We explore the associations between parity/maternal age and adverse neonatal outcomes using data from cohort studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
Methods
Data from 14 cohort studies were included. Parity (nulliparous, parity 1-2, parity ≥3) and maternal age (<18 years, 18-<35 years, ≥35 years) categories were matched with each other to create exposure categories, with those who are parity 1-2 and age 18-<35 years as the reference. Outcomes included small-for-gestational-age (SGA), preterm, neonatal and infant mortality. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were calculated per study and meta-analyzed.
Results
Nulliparous, age <18 year women, compared with women who were parity 1-2 and age 18-<35 years had the highest odds of SGA (pooled adjusted OR: 1.80), preterm (pooled aOR: 1.52), neonatal mortality (pooled aOR: 2.07), and infant mortality (pooled aOR: 1.49). Increased odds were also noted for SGA and neonatal mortality for nulliparous/age 18-<35 years, preterm, neonatal, and infant mortality for parity ≥3/age 18-<35 years, and preterm and neonatal mortality for parity ≥3/≥35 years.
Conclusions
Nulliparous women <18 years of age have the highest odds of adverse neonatal outcomes. Family planning has traditionally been the least successful in addressing young age as a risk factor; a renewed focus must be placed on finding effective interventions that delay age at first birth. Higher odds of adverse outcomes are also seen among parity ≥3 / age ≥35 mothers, suggesting that reproductive health interventions need to address the entirety of a woman’s reproductive period.
Funding
Funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (810-2054) by a grant to the US Fund for UNICEF to support the activities of the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S2
PMCID: PMC3847520  PMID: 24564800
3.  The associations of birth intervals with small-for-gestational-age, preterm, and neonatal and infant mortality: a meta-analysis 
BMC Public Health  2013;13(Suppl 3):S3.
Background
Short and long birth intervals have previously been linked to adverse neonatal outcomes. However, much of the existing literature uses cross-sectional studies, from which deriving causal inference is complex. We examine the association between short/long birth intervals and adverse neonatal outcomes by calculating and meta-analyzing associations using original data from cohort studies conducted in low-and middle-income countries (LMIC).
Methods
We identified five cohort studies. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were calculated for each study, with birth interval as the exposure and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) and/or preterm birth, and neonatal and infant mortality as outcomes. The associations were controlled for potential confounders and meta-analyzed.
Results
Birth interval of shorter than 18 months had statistically significant increased odds of SGA (pooled aOR: 1.51, 95% CI: 1.31-1.75), preterm (pooled aOR: 1.58, 95% CI: 1.19-2.10) and infant mortality (pooled aOR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.19-2.81) after controlling for potential confounding factors (reference 36-<60 months). It was also significantly associated with term-SGA, preterm-appropriate-for-gestational-age, and preterm-SGA. Birth interval over 60 months had increased risk of SGA (pooled aOR: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.07-1.39) and term-SGA (pooled aOR: 1.14, 95% CI: 1.03-1.27), but was not associated with other outcomes.
Conclusions
Birth intervals shorter than 18 months are significantly associated with SGA, preterm birth and death in the first year of life. Lack of access to family planning interventions thus contributes to the burden of adverse birth outcomes and infant mortality in LMICs. Programs and policies must assess ways to provide equitable access to reproductive health interventions to mothers before or soon after delivering a child, but also address underlying socioeconomic factors that may modify and worsen the effect of short intervals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-S3-S3
PMCID: PMC3847557  PMID: 24564484
4.  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
5.  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
6.  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
7.  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

Results 1-7 (7)