HIV-infected women susceptible to malnutrition during pregnancy, even with good antiretrovirol care

by Joyanna Hansen

Malnutrition is common among HIV-infected pregnant women even when they receive antiretroviral therapy, leading to low birth weight and other health problems in their infants, according to a recent study conducted by a Cornell University faculty member working with the Makerere University-UCSF Research Collaboration.

In one of the few studies that have looked at the nutritional status of pregnant, HIV-infected women receiving antiretroviral therapy, about 15 percent of the women lost weight over the course of their pregnancies. Almost half of the women were anemic, a condition often caused by iron deficiency, according to lead researcher Sera Young, a research scientist in Cornell's Division of .

"What we see is that even excellent clinical care on the best antiretroviral regimens that we have isn't sufficient for healthy pregnancies," said Young.

HIV is a "wasting disease," meaning that it depletes the body's muscle and fat stores. This combined with the increased nutritional needs of pregnancy make HIV-infected pregnant women particularly susceptible to malnutrition, Young said.

The researchers measured weight gain, iron status and other nutritional markers in 158 HIV-infected, pregnant Ugandan women receiving . The study also followed the women throughout their pregnancies and found that the also had poor ; about one-fifth of the babies had , and and stunting were common.

"There's no better predictor of a child's health than the mother's health," said Young. "Working to keep the moms healthy to be able to care for these little babies is a pretty compelling reason for this research."

One of the positive findings of the study is that no mother transmitted HIV in utero or while giving birth to the babies, said Young.

Young is spearheading an ongoing study looking at the effects of nutritional supplementation in HIV-infected pregnant women, with the hope that augmenting their diet during pregnancy will improve both maternal and infant health outcomes.

Diane Havlir and Deborah Cohan, both researchers at the University of California-San Francisco, were the primary investigators. The study was part of PROMOTE, a larger clinical trial investigating malaria outcomes in HIV-infected pregnant women receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The results of this study were published in the Aug. 7 issue of the journal PLoS One.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Anti-HIV drug tenofovir is safe to take during pregnancy

May 15, 2012

Pre-birth exposure to the anti-HIV drug tenofovir does not adversely affect pregnancy outcomes and does not increase birth defects, growth abnormalities, or kidney problems in infants born to African women who are HIV positive, ...

Pregnancy may slow -- not accelerate -- progression to AIDS

Sep 19, 2007

A new study may help put to rest fears that pregnancy accelerates progression to full-blown AIDS in women with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy. The study, published in the October 1st issue of the Journal of Infectious ...

Recommended for you

Preventing one case of HIV saves over $225K, study shows

Feb 27, 2015

How much money would be saved if one high-risk person was prevented from contracting HIV in the United States? A new study led by a researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College and published online Feb. 24 in Medical Care, answer ...

Research captures transient details of HIV genome packaging

Feb 27, 2015

Once HIV-1 has hijacked a host cell to make copies of its own RNA genome and viral proteins, it must assemble these components into new virus particles. The orchestration of this intricate assembly process falls to a viral ...

Could an HIV drug beat strep throat, flesh-eating bacteria?

Feb 25, 2015

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, scientists are looking for innovative ways to combat bacterial infections. The pathogen that causes conditions from strep throat to flesh-eating disease is among them, but scientists ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.