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Antiretroviral therapy and premature delivery in diagnosed HIV-infected women in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Townsend, Claire L; Cortina-Borja, Mario; Peckham, Catherine S; Tookey, Pat A

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328133884b
Epidemiology and Social

Objective: To explore the association between antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy and premature delivery, birthweight, stillbirth and neonatal mortality, in pregnancies in HIV-infected women delivering between 1990 and 2005.

Design: Pregnancies in women with diagnosed HIV infection in the UK and Ireland are notified to the National Study of HIV in Pregnancy and Childhood (NSHPC) through a well-established surveillance scheme.

Results: The prematurity rate (< 37 weeks gestation) was higher in women on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (14.1%, 476/3384) than in women on mono/dual therapy (10.1%, 107/1061), even after adjusting for ethnicity, maternal age, clinical status and injecting drug use as the source of HIV acquisition [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.51, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.19–1.93; P = 0.001]. Delivery at < 35 weeks was even more strongly associated with HAART (AOR = 2.34; 95% CI, 1.64–3.37; P < 0.001). The effect was the same whether or not HAART included a protease inhibitor. In comparison with exposure to mono/dual therapy, exposure to HAART was associated with lower birthweight standardized for gestational age (P < 0.001), and an increased risk of stillbirth (AOR = 2.27; 95% CI, 0.96–5.41; P = 0.063).

Conclusions: These findings, based on comprehensive population surveillance, demonstrate an increased risk of prematurity associated with HAART, and a possible association with other perinatal outcomes, including stillbirth and birthweight. Although the beneficial effects of antiretroviral therapy on mother-to-child transmission are indisputable, monitoring antiretroviral therapy in pregnancy remains a priority.

From the Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK.

Received 17 October, 2006

Revised 6 February, 2007

Accepted 19 February, 2007

Correspondence to Dr Pat A. Tookey, Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK. E-mail:

The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.