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1.  The impact of helminths on the response to immunization and on the incidence of infection and disease in childhood in Uganda: design of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial trial of deworming interventions delivered in pregnancy and early childhood [ISRCTN32849447] 
Background
Helminths have profound effects on the immune response, allowing long-term survival of parasites with minimal damage to the host. Some of these effects "spill-over", altering responses to non-helminth antigens or allergens. It is suggested that this may lead to impaired responses to immunizations and infections, while conferring benefits against inflammatory responses in allergic and autoimmune disease. These effects might develop in utero, through exposure to maternal helminth infections, or through direct exposure in later life.
Purpose
To determine the effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and in young children on immunological and disease outcomes in childhood.
Methods
The trial has three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled interventions at two times, in two people: a pregnant woman and her child. Pregnant women are randomized to albendazole or placebo and praziquantel or placebo. At age 15 months their children are randomized to three-monthly albendazole or placebo, to continue to age five years. The proposed designation for this sequence of interventions is a 2 X 2(x2) factorial design.
Children are immunized with BCG and against polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus, hepatitis B and measles. Primary immunological outcomes are responses to BCG antigens and tetanus toxoid in whole blood cytokine assays and antibody assays at one, three and five years of age. Primary disease outcomes are incidence of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, measles, vertical HIV transmission, and atopic disease episodes, measured at clinic visits and twice-monthly home visits. Effects on anaemia, growth and intellectual development are also assessed.
Conclusion
This trial, with a novel design comprising related interventions in pregnant women and their offspring, is the first to examine effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and early childhood on immunological, infectious disease and allergic disease outcomes. The results will enhance understanding of both detrimental and beneficial effects of helminth infection and inform policy. Clinical Trials 2007; 4: 42–57. http://ctj.sagepub.com
doi:10.1177/1740774506075248
PMCID: PMC2643383  PMID: 17327245
2.  Use of antenatal services and delivery care in Entebbe, Uganda: a community survey 
Background
Disparities in perinatal health care occur worldwide. If the UN Millennium Development Goals in maternal and child health are to be met, this needs to be addressed. This study was conducted to facilitate our understanding of the changing use of maternity care services in a semi-urban community in Entebbe Uganda and to examine the range of antenatal and delivery services received in health care facilities and at home.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective community survey among women using structured questionnaires to describe the use of antenatal services and delivery care.
Results
In total 413 women reported on their most recent pregnancy. Antenatal care attendance was high with 96% attending once, and 69% the recommended four times. Blood pressure monitoring (95%) and tetanus vaccination (91%) were the services most frequently reported and HIV testing (47%), haematinics (58%) and presumptive treatment for malaria (66%) least frequently. Hospital clinics significantly outperformed public clinics in the quality of antenatal service. A significant improvement in the reported quality of antenatal services received was observed by year (p < 0.001). Improvement in the range and consistency of services at Entebbe Hospital over time was associated with an increase in the numbers who sought care there (p = 0.038). Although 63% delivered their newborn at a local hospital, 11% still delivered at home with no skilled assistance and just under half of these women reported financial/transportation difficulties as the primary reason. Less educated, poorer mothers were more likely to have unskilled/no assistance. Simple newborn care practices were commonly neglected. Only 35% of newborns were breastfed within the first hour and delayed wrapping of newborn infants occurred after 27% of deliveries.
Conclusion
Although antenatal services were well utilised, the quality of services varied. Women were able and willing to travel to a facility providing a good service. Access to essential skilled birth attendants remains difficult especially for less educated, poorer women, commonly mediated by financial and transport difficulties and several simple post delivery practices were commonly neglected. These factors need to be addressed to ensure that high quality care reaches the most vulnerable women and infants.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-23
PMCID: PMC2098779  PMID: 17931422
3.  Cancer risk among users of oral contraceptives: cohort data from the Royal College of General Practitioner's oral contraception study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;335(7621):651.
Objective To examine the absolute risks or benefits on cancer associated with oral contraception, using incident data.
Design Inception cohort study.
Setting Royal College of General Practitioners' oral contraception study.
Participants Directly standardised data from the Royal College of General Practitioners' oral contraception study.
Main outcome measures Adjusted relative risks between never and ever users of oral contraceptives for different types of cancer, main gynaecological cancers combined, and any cancer. Standardisation variables were age, smoking, parity, social class, and (for the general practitioner observation dataset) hormone replacement therapy. Subgroup analyses examined whether the relative risks changed with user characteristics, duration of oral contraception usage, and time since last use of oral contraception.
Results The main dataset contained about 339 000 woman years of observation for never users and 744 000 woman years for ever users. Compared with never users ever users had statistically significant lower rates of cancers of the large bowel or rectum, uterine body, and ovaries, tumours of unknown site, and other malignancies; main gynaecological cancers combined; and any cancer. The relative risk for any cancer in the smaller general practitioner observation dataset was not significantly reduced. Statistically significant trends of increasing risk of cervical and central nervous system or pituitary cancer, and decreasing risk of uterine body and ovarian malignancies, were seen with increasing duration of oral contraceptive use. Reduced relative risk estimates were observed for ovarian and uterine body cancer many years after stopping oral contraception, although some were not statistically significant. The estimated absolute rate reduction of any cancer among ever users was 45 or 10 per 100 000 woman years, depending on whether the main or general practitioner observation dataset was used.
Conclusion In this UK cohort, oral contraception was not associated with an overall increased risk of cancer; indeed it may even produce a net public health gain. The balance of cancer risks and benefits, however, may vary internationally, depending on patterns of oral contraception usage and the incidence of different cancers.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39289.649410.55
PMCID: PMC1995533  PMID: 17855280
4.  Associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia in pregnancy and helminth, malaria and HIV infection in Entebbe, Uganda 
Summary
It is suggested that helminths, particularly hookworm and schistosomiasis, may be important causes of anaemia in pregnancy. We assessed the associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia (haemoglobin >8.0 g/dl and <11.2 g/dl) and helminths, malaria and HIV among 2507 otherwise healthy pregnant women at enrolment to a trial of deworming in pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda. The prevalence of anaemia was 39.7%. The prevalence of hookworm was 44.5%, Mansonella perstans 21.3%, Schistosoma mansoni 18.3%, Strongyloides 12.3%, Trichuris 9.1%, Ascaris 2.3%, asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia 10.9% and HIV 11.9%. Anaemia showed little association with the presence of any helminth, but showed a strong association with malaria (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.22, 95% CI 2.43–4.26) and HIV (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.90–3.19). There was a weak association between anaemia and increasing hookworm infection intensity. Thus, although highly prevalent, helminths showed little association with mild-to-moderate anaemia in this population, but HIV and malaria both showed a strong association. This result may relate to relatively good nutrition and low helminth infection intensity. These findings are pertinent to estimating the disease burden of helminths and other infections in pregnancy. [Clinical Trial No. ISRCTN32849447]
doi:10.1016/j.trstmh.2007.03.017
PMCID: PMC1950430  PMID: 17555783
Anaemia; Helminth; Pregnancy; HIV; Malaria; Uganda

Results 1-4 (4)