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

September 10, 2012 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.

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, ...

Recommended for you

HVTN 505 vaccine induced antibodies nonspecific for HIV

July 30, 2015

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Duke University helps explain why the candidate vaccine used in the HVTN 505 clinical trial was not protective against HIV infection ...

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

Why HIV's cloak has a long tail

June 2, 2015

Virologists at Emory University School of Medicine, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have uncovered a critical detail explaining how HIV assembles its infectious yet stealthy clothing.

0 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.