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Association Between Low Birth Weight and Infant Mortality in Children Born to Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1-Infected Mothers in Tanzania

Wei, Ruilan PhD*; Msamanga, Gernard I. MD, ScD§; Spiegelman, Donna ScD†‡; Hertzmark, Ellen MS; Baylin, Ana MD, DrPH*; Manji, Karim MBBS, MPH; Fawzi, Wafaie W. MBBS, DrPH*†

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: June 2004 - Volume 23 - Issue 6 - p 530-535
doi: 10.1097/01.inf.0000129691.42964.eb
Original Studies

Background: The relationship between low birth weight and infant mortality among children born to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected mothers has not been thoroughly investigated.

Methods: A total of 1078 HIV-infected pregnant women in Tanzania were followed up until delivery and with their infants thereafter. The babies’ HIV status was assessed at birth, 6 weeks and every 3 months thereafter. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we estimated the associations of low birth weight with neonatal, post-neonatal and infant mortality and further examined whether the association between low birth weight and mortality was modified by pediatric HIV infection.

Results: Among 823 singletons, low birth weight was strongly related to neonatal mortality (relative risk, 5.14; 95% confidence interval, 2.32–11.39). The association with postneonatal mortality was modified by child’s HIV status. Among infants who were either negative or indeterminate at 6 weeks of age, low birth weight was associated with a 3-fold increased risk of mortality (relative risk, 3.16; 95% confidence interval, 1.36–7.37). In the positive infants, however, the association was no longer significant.

Conclusions: Although the importance of preventing HIV transmission cannot be overemphasized, efforts to reduce the incidence of low birth weight would enhance the benefit of preventing HIV transmission. Even in populations with no access to antiretroviral treatments, interventions to reduce the incidence of low birth weight would result in a significant reduction in infant mortality.

From the Departments of *Nutrition, †Epidemiology and ‡Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA; and the Departments of §Community Health and ¶Paediatrics and Child Health, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Accepted for publication January 30, 2004.

Supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant R01 32257, Fogarty International Center grant D43 TW00004 and National Institutes of Health training grant DK07703.

Reprints not available.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.